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Military Life: Bittersweet extremes

Have you ever had a day when over and over you are made aware of something you hadn’t really focused on previously? Somehow it just keeps showing up.  You see pictures, maybe the subject keeps popping up in conversation.  And it’s always in the strangest context.

Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. From the moment I woke up and began my morning routine, the reality of my military life and the life of every other military spouse was, as they say, “in my face“.

It started out with the sound of reveille at 0630 signaling a new day, followed closely by the shouting of a neighbor hustling her teen out the door to catch the bus yelling,  “Your father is coming home from the field on Friday and then you will see how your attitude works in this household”.  The two “events” were symbolic of the bittersweet extremes that we live with each and everyday. And the day continued with this emotional back and forth ping-pong match.  It was like one minute I was “a proud Army wife” and the next I was cursing how much it sucks.

But I think the biggest “extreme” of the day came in the afternoon when the bittersweet moments of our lives became so apparent.

A few years ago, I met an amazing author Mark Hundley who wrote a book called Awaken to Good Mourning that deals with coping with the death of a loved one, and yesterday we were chatting about how it could help the military families after a tragedy. You see I had given a copy of his book to a grieving spouse and her response to it was amazing.  It supported her in a way that nothing else seemed to, and after sharing her reaction with Mark we knew he needed to get his book into the military community.

I got off that call energized at the possibilities not only for  the families that need the support this book gives, but for my friend as well.  I had all the good vibrations and happy juju that comes with knowing that at that moment, I was doing exactly what I was put here to do.  I was proud that I could connect my “Army Wife”  life  to my civilian life in a way that really could make a difference  and help everyone.  I was so happy that I was even energized to get to the gym. [for those of you who follow me regularly, you know this has been a struggle of late 🙂 ]

And then at the gym, while on the elliptical, I saw it in the reflection of those hateful mirrors.  I saw something that no fellow spouse wants to see.  I saw it in her eyes, and I knew.  The women next to me, the one trying to keep her life as “normal” as possible, was doing what I see military spouses do all the time.  She was finding strength within herself that she never knew she had, only this time it was so much harder. This time the unthinkable had become her reality. And my heart went out to her.

Instantly my eyes swelled and tears ran down my cheeks, and when our eyes met, I was a bit uncomfortable. It wasn’t  because I was caught staring or because the silent bond of support that instantly formed between us was so emotional, I was crying because in that moment I realized that on any other day, I could be her.

Acknowledging that there are risks in this life we lead and balancing that with the fact that I had just spent hours with Mark trying to come up with a way for his book to reach women just like her was so bittersweet.  The life we lead in the military is full of  extremes.  Deployments and homecomings, field time and four days, constant moves and battle buddies. The extremes are the reality and hardships are often the norm. But one thing is for certain, in the extremes, we become stronger and a silent bond is formed.

Likewise, while I can’t walk in her shoes I can relate. So when she turned to leave, I glanced her way with an understanding and a knowing that we would see each other again someday.  I  mouthed “I’m sorry”, and she nodded trying to smile as she went about trying to find some normalcy in an unfair world. One thing is for certain, when I do see her again, not only will our bond be restored, but I’ll have Mark’s book in my bag.

 

~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com

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