Monday, August 23, 2010
THROUGH HELL AND HIGH WATER
They go into the worst conditions, at the worst time, and make the biggest difference. They are our Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Soldiers. They will continue, and they will succeed. For them there is no option. While they are fighting, there is also an unseen group of family members and friends that wait, worry, cry and cheer when, in one of those moments of grace that life gives us, they return. These are the pillars of strength behind our warriors.
"They also serve who only stand and wait." ~John Milton
Army wives join the military. They are not commissioned, nor do they enlist. When they say "I do" they most likely don't realize how much they really will be doing. Anniversaries are missed, births of children, and holidays. They wait, struggling with keeping a marriage alive and combating loneliness. Military wives support and encourage each other, like other female friends can't quite grasp. These are lifelong relationships that often last longer than some marriages.
On weekends, wounded warriors, who have spent the week in therapy sessions or awaiting doctor appointments, sleep late. The wives gather in the living room or kitchen or on the patio of the Fisher House at BAMC. Some are in their pajamas and the kids are in strollers, or playing in the courtyard in the shadow of the Center for the Intrepid. The soldiers have told me repeatedly that having a therapy dog visit, makes them happy. Not just because they enjoy them, but because it brings a little bit of home to their children, some of whom have been removed from the only home they ever knew. Like any child they ask mom and dad for a pet, but obviously that isn't realistic. So for a little while a therapy dog offers a sense of normalcy to some extraordinary children.
Most all of the kids love the dogs. They form circles around them, squat and reach out their arms to pet her. Seldom do they have to be reminded to give 'gentle touches.' They seem to know. They also take pride in sharing with their friends and encouraging them and supporting them, very much like their mothers support each other. They are kind and courteous. They have been subjected to things other children haven't, nor ever will be. Their lives too will never be the same. They, like their mothers, have had to grow up; all too fast.
With flags, we honor freedom in our yards and in our homes and even in our wardrobe. But I wonder, do we acknowledge, appreciate, or recognize the wives and children of our deployed military and their commitment and their staggering grace.