This is no ordinary life we live, I’ll tell you that much.
It feels a bit obvious right now, painfully obvious if I’m being honest, as I am surrounded with boxes, yet-to-be-unpacked, in a home that doesn’t quite yet feel like home.
We did this dance two years ago and we’ll do it again in another three- packing up and moving to a new place and everything is new and friends are new and doesn’t this just feel like a grand adventure?
Is it starting to feel like an adventure yet?
I’m scrolling through Instagram the other day, mindless, seeking an escape honestly, and I pause on a cute picture of someone I follow. In this picture, she sits on her front porch steps, looking at her husband and laughing.
Ordinary love, she talks about. Ordinary days, ordinary weeks filled with cereal and sports practice and Netflix binging, too-long stretches between date nights, but the same spark they’ve always had to light a fire. She says that their life isn’t going to change the world, but that he changed her world.
I would give anything to have ordinary.
It’s not like it used to be, height of the GWOT, so many missions and casualties and deployments and reunions making the nightly news.
It’s not like it used to be, soldiers deployed for a year, every other year.
It’s not like it used to be, yet it is exactly like it’s always been.
January 1 hits this year, and down fall the dominos, one right after another, buckle up for the ride it’s about to get busy. One selection course leads into another trip that leads into a different training and some late nights and some parachute jumps in between, lots of days without our guy, is what it means.
Okay, girls! Who’s ready for a picnic on the front porch! Who’s ready for donuts for breakfast? Who’s ready for a board game or a story or a movie, here, I made you some cookies.
Rally the troops, make it fun, make it an adventure, in it together as a family, right?
This all ultimately leads to a new job and a new move and the same terrible goodbyes you never get used to saying.
Dominos are falling, or is it us that is getting knocked down?
Putting the girls to bed one night, and out come the feelings, as nighttime philosophers are prone to do.
I wish Daddy didn’t have a job where he had to leave us so much.
Lane’s phone rings, 10:30am on a Sunday, our eyes connect, not good, we both know.
He comes back in the room, devastated, but honing his just-do-the-next-thing efficiency I’ve seen in his eyes so many times, too many times.
Another one, I ask? Again?
Yep. His roommate found him. Had been struggling for awhile. Couldn’t deal. Found a gun instead.
Not only not good, but pure tragedy.
Too many times.
Before Lane left for Iraq at the beginning of 2017, we hug, I hold his face in my hands, memorizing the way his ears feel, rubbing my hands through his hair, remember this, remember this, remember this.
Baby. You come back home to me.
It’s not like it used to be, he responds, we’re all going to come back home.
I’m going to come back home.
But remember, you promised.
One month passes, no knock on the door. Two months pass, no phone calls of casualties, three months, four.
And then we lose one of them. Young, strong, loved by many, no- not him. Really? It’s him?
A collective sob rings out.
I’m talking to one of my friends, not in the military, a few days later, and in kindness rather than condescension, she asks Why does this impact you so much? I mean, it’s not Lane that died… help me understand.
I talk about the stress-level of a military wife and how it’s so constant and how even when things seem to be fine, we’re bracing for something to happen because it always could, any given day. I talk about the constancy of fear sitting at a low-grade simmer every single day and how it’s stuff like this that releases the pressure valve and it reminds every one of us how vulnerable we really are.
So it’s this, but it’s also the one thousand moments before it.
I don’t know what else to say beyond that.
What was I saying about ordinary, again?
Combine it all together and I might not know ordinary, but I think I know something about love, at this point. I think I can speak to that.
Because I think about the banquet Lane and I got to attend recently for the Legion of Valor- for recipients of all of the military’s highest medals for valor- and we sat across the table from a WWII veteran. He tells us his stories, all of them, and then he says My country asked a lot of me but it was because they needed me. I’m glad I got to stand next to the fellas I did in the situations I found myself in. I’m glad I was able to serve. There’s no better way to live your life.
And this is what love does- it moves toward when everything else is running away, it gives more so you can give less, it spends itself for the sake of the other, it throws fear aside and it builds up and makes a way and then says there’s no better way to live.
I think of love when I think of those who serve, the ones we remember on Memorial Day who gave everything, and the ones who would do the very same thing were it asked of them.
It’s pretty extraordinary, if you ask me.
And here we find ourselves, right where extraordinary intersects with sacrifice and meets up with love- discovering that there’s no better way to live your life.
Struggling with the demands and depletion of the military life? Maybe this will help: 5 Ways I Stay Sane in this Military Life. Click here and I will quietly send it to your inbox.