I was an active duty Air Force service member for 20 years, 28 days. I served my country proudly stateside, in a support function that most don’t respect nor recognize. I personally will never forgive myself for not having “boots on the ground” overseas for this was the sole reason I joined. But I served, I sacrificed, and I wore my uniform proudly every single day for more than half my life.
Here I am, almost 20 years ago…
And I miss it. And it hurts. And sadly, yes, the flood gates have been opened. Someone pass me a tissue, PLEASE.
My Memorial Day wasn’t filled with BBQ’s or parties. We traveled to Wisconsin to view the stones my Father (a Vietnam vet) had dedicated for both my husband and myself. The ceremony was canceled due to nasty weather, but we still stood proudly at the memorial to view our stones laid carefully amongst other service member’s stones. I tried to hold back all of my emotion, my heartache in missing my fellow service brothers and sisters, but as we drove back south towards home I found I couldn’t hold back my tears. I closed my eyes, listened to country music and just took deep breaths.
I recalled so many memories…times when I was told I would “make it all the way to the top tier” and become a Chief, yet sadly I only retired as a Master Sergeant. My dreams will always be there, and I’ve let them go for the most part, but on days like today I am catapulted back to a time when serving my country in what little capacity I did, well, was what I DID. And I loved it…I still do. I always will. But my time as active duty ended two years ago. Now my role has changed to an Army Wife.
I have said goodbye, and welcome home more times to my husband than I can count on both hands. I am supposed to be the strong one, holding my family together while he continues to serve. Yet today, I feel very small and weak. I try to my tears so that he doesn’t see how his absence affects me. I blame it on allergies, being tired, you name it…he can’t know how hard it is on me; because he has bigger things to focus on…he’s still serving…
And then his post (very rare) on this picture tonight made me realize my time to serve isn’t over. He wrote “The true strength behind a paratrooper… family.” Keep in mind, my husband rarely posts on Facebook, so this meant a lot to me. I now need to dig deep, and serve in even a bigger capacity which means taking care of our family while he is gone so he can focus on his missions at hand.
But still, I miss the uniform and all it represented. I miss the camaraderie, the pride, and I miss the closeness of the military. I feel very lost and alone without it these days.
But my Grandfather, Father, and husband amidst many others will remain my heroes’, and I will hang on to that feeling for the rest of my life. I will allow myself this night of weakness, and keep in my heart the new beginnings of tomorrow. I will allow my heart to be heavy with the ripping sounds of my husband’s suitcases being zipped, but I will realize I have been doing this on my own for quite some time now and that I WILL get past the hard days and appreciate the good days.