Today is bittersweet for many of us. As a military spouse and sister, I know the anxiety and emotions that come with the position. I know what it’s like to fall asleep and wake up to news broadcasts hoping for a positive update but at the same time hoping not to know too much so the members are not compromised in security. I know what it’s like to put on a brave face so children aren’t overly worried.
But they have every right to be concerned. A parent has said good-bye to go protect, not only the family, but the country. Young children have a hard time understanding deployment and a harder time understanding the concept of months without mommy or daddy. When they see someone in uniform walk by a window, they’re waiting for mommy to come pick them up. Mommy tucks them in at night, but she didn’t come home. “Is she mad at me?” “Daddy sometimes works late, but I haven’t seen him in a really long time. Did I do something wrong?” There’s a new stress on the family, and everything has to shift to carry on during absence. Support is needed.
There’s a wave of excitement in getting ready for return and a new anxiety about how you’ll get readjusted. I remember the fun we had preparing for my husband’s return and my brother-in-law’s return. We lined up everyone’s outfits, called all the family members, decorated, and prepared for the countdown. The first moment you see your spouse is almost surreal. For many, they feel it immediately while it hits others like a wave all at once when they get home and realize the spouse is staying. It’s like you can finally stop holding your breath. Watching the kids react to daddy’s homecoming was one of the things I most enjoyed. Everyone has something they learned that they want to share…once they let him go.
But then there are the ones who never get to experience the joy of a parent returning. They don’t know what it’s like to stop holding their breath and relax. My dear niece lost her biological father before she was two weeks old. While her family takes time to tell her about him, and she has some understanding about what happened, she is one of the many who understand all too well what this day truly means. She knows first-hand what sacrifice costs. Memorial Day means more than barbecues, a day off, and sleeping in. It means a very real reminder of a parent who was willing to sacrifice everything so she wouldn’t have to sacrifice anything.
Today means something very real to those who are in the military or who have served in the military. Take time to recognize and give a heartfelt thanks to a service member.
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