Posted: May 27, 2013 6:00 AM
 
Memorial Day weekend is here, and for the vast majority of Americans, it is little more then a three-day weekend heralding the start of summer. But for those military members dealing with separation, both stateside and abroad, it is another holiday away from family and friends. Deployment is tough, and patriotic holidays tend to make them even tougher — in ways you’d probably never think.

It's a lonely life being the spouse of a deployed service member. The beginning is a little easier — it's fresh on everyone's mind that your significant other is gone, and the invitations come pouring in. But as time goes on, people's own lives take precedence (as they should). Everyone has a family, a job, responsibilities and obligations, and naturally those take priority over someone else. For the most part, it's fine really. But when special occasions come around, especially holidays, his presence is sorely missed, and I long for the onslaught of invites we had just a few months ago.

It's a holiday weekend, yo

Military dog tagsThis weekend is Memorial Day weekend. I'm pretty sure I will get inundated with the obligatory "Thanks for your service" Facebook posts, posts I haven't earned. I don't serve. I'm not sitting in a tent in the middle of a foreign desert listening to bombs explode, wondering which one is destined for me. I didn't solemnly swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic... So help me God." More importantly, my hero hasn't died. The accolades do little more than remind me of what could be, as we honor those who paid the ultimate price.

He's gone

We do all the things we would normally do, and then some, with the specific intent of maintaining the status quo. But then some little event will occur that sends me into a strange spiral, one that always takes me by surprise.

I know it's not forever, but for now
(and for a long while), he's gone. I try to ignore that fact daily. I try to move along with our routine as if he will be home for dinner, home for bedtime prayers, home to snuggle with after the boys are asleep. It's easier that way. We do all the things we would normally do, and then some, with the specific intent of maintaining the status quo. But then some little event will occur that sends me into a strange spiral, one that always takes me by surprise. Today, that surprise came as I was loading up cardboard boxes for recycling. I came across a few that he'd sent home, one for the boys from "the sandbox" and a couple from before he left the states. They were all addressed to our sons, and I gave pause before throwing them into the recycling bin. What if? What if something happens to him and these are the last packages he sends? What if this is the last chance we have to see our boys' names in his handwriting? Will I be OK with the fact that I threw his precious words away?

What if?

My life is surrounded by these words. I've saved every email message he's sent, even the ones that merely say "OK," because of "What if?" Because I know I will want those messages should the very worst thing ever occur, I cannot bear to delete them. Just as I could not bear to throw those boxes into the recycling bin. Because what if someday I do earn the Facebook praise for surviving my hero's death?

Remember them all

Patriotic watermelon

So, this Memorial Day weekend, as you enjoy your barbecue and lament the fact that work starts again on Tuesday, say a little prayer of thanks to whatever God you worship for the family you have surrounding you. For the "What ifs?" you don't have to think about. For the mundane, everyday simplicity of throwing out a cardboard box without agonizing over it. Say a prayer for the soldiers in those tents, wondering which boom is headed their way. And maybe say a prayer for the spouses as well, that they hoard those boxes for nothing, and never earn the honor Memorial Day is really all about.

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