Tuesday, April 19, 2011

They Said Thank You

*Life has been a little crazy lately so I haven't had a chance to do much in the way of writing. Here is an old (slightly edited) note that I posted on facebook a while back and wanted to share :)

September 2, 2009

I sat rocking our fussy baby girl  in the baggage claim area of the airport waiting for my husband to get the last piece of his luggage so we could go home for the short 30 hours we had. A man walked up and shook my husbands hand and even though I was to far away to hear what he was saying I could tell that he was thanking him for his service in the military. It made me proud. He had obviously seen Jeremiah and I together before the baggage started coming through for, as he was walking away, he walked past me nodded and said "Thank You." Two simple words. No smile accompanied them but there was a sincerity there; an acknowledgment of the sacrifices that I had put in as well. They are words that I will not soon forget.

"Except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it"
I come from a home where the military is well respected, as it should be. Both my parents had fathers that served. One for just a few years in the Navy and the other as career Army. Both my parents served in the Army as well (and thank goodness for it because that is where they met!). Although no one was in the service by the time I came along, I am no stranger to the ups and downs of military life. I listened with rapt attention to the stories that my mother and grandmother told and the few I could weasel out of my father. I learned very quickly that life as a soldier's wife or as a military brat, while being honorable, was not an easy lifestyle. There were good lessons to be learned...lessons that I was happy just hearing about and had no desire to experience for myself.

The truth is, I never dreamed that I would one day find myself as a soldier's wife. I'd heard enough stories to know that it demands as much, if not more, strength and sacrifice out of the family as it does out of the soldier. Especially in wartime. And yet, here I stand - a soldier's wife.

I have yet to experience having my husband deployed. That is one sacrifice that I am not looking forward to. Even knowing that my husband's MOS will more than likely put him in a green zone, there is still the fear that he could very well come back home in a box. This war is far from over and the Middle East is still proving to be a deadly place for soldiers. Despite not having to have made the deployment sacrifice, my sacrifices have already started. 

It's been nearly six months since the day that I drove away from the MEPS building where my husband was about to leave for his basic training. I still remember the tears streaming down my face as I talked to my sister over the phone; I was trying so hard to be strong when all I wanted to do was fall apart. I've spent more nights than I can keep track of up watching tv or reading a book or playing around on the internet because I didn't want to slip into an empty bed and face the tears that I knew would come. So I'd push myself to exhaustion staying up until two or even three am (being in my third trimester got me tired alot sooner than normal!) before going to bed. I made the sacrifice of learning lonely.

Spending the last trimester of my pregnancy alone was certainly no cake walk either. My sisters could both tell stories on me of the times that I called in tears of frustration between the emotions that I didn't know what to do with and the sheer exhaustion that comes with carrying around an extra 35 pounds and having no one there to help. It didn't help that I had a "slight" mouse issue (between my parents and me, we caught over 30 mice that had decided to keep me company....yuck!) which left my kitchen a constant mess. I have rarely been so thankful for anything as I was when I saw my parents pull into the driveway and knew that I would no longer be alone for (what turned out to be) the next 2 1/2 months. 

Then there was the delivery...now I'm not complaining; less than four hours of hard labor (including the pushing) was perhaps God's way of saying that He knew He had put me trough an awful lot so He was going to make this a little easier for me. But, oh, how I wish Jeremiah could have been there for it. I wish I could have shared the memories of those first precious hours with him...holding her for the first time, kissing her precious face, counting her fingers and toes, watching her sleep. the 1st baby is a special something that you can never do over again. A sacrifice that we both had to make. Watching him try to figure out what to do with his hands the first time we Skyped was heartbreaking - you could see that all he wanted to do was reach out and touch his daughter.

It wasn't until his visit home that I received my first thanks. We were walking through the airport, escorting him to his departing plane and drawing tons of attention; as my dad so aptly put it - there is nothing like a man in uniform carrying a baby bundled in pink to attract attention. We had people left and right smiling and saying "thank you." Some directed it specifically at him and some at us as a family. But there was one couple that will perhaps forever stick out in my mind. It was an older couple that came over to look at the baby then they thanked Jeremiah for his service. And then, with a kind of knowing in her eye, the older lady looked at me and said "Thank you for your sacrifice." Had she been in my position? Had she also once been the wife a soldier during war time? I'll never know for sure. But somehow she knew that it wasn't just my husband making sacrifices for his country. It was that "thank you" that brought tears to my eyes.

Do the "thank yous" make all the sacrifice worth it? No, not really. If one makes so many sacrifices for the glory of it or the "thank yous" they are going to become quickly discouraged. There is too much uncertainty, too many unseen challenges, too much sacrifices made and too few "thank yous" for them. But those "thank yous" that we do get, they make it easier to keep pushing on. They help remind us that we are not just making the sacrifices for our family and friends but also for the random strangers on the street...people we have never met. It's like that cool sip of water on a hot day...it means more than we could ever say.

I have not had to make the ultimate sacrifice, and I pray that I never do. And I know that there are many military wives and families that have it harder than I do. My sacrifices are small in comparison to some. There are those that go each day knowing nothing more than that their loved one, be it husband or wife or son or daughter, is in harm's way.Some deal with their loved ones having maimed or lost limbs...or memories of a war that they wish the could forget. Some have only the memories of their fallen soldier. But we all make our sacrifices, both great and small, for our fellow countrymen.

So whenever you see a service member, be it Army or Navy or Marines or Air Force or even the Coast Guard, stop and thank them. And thank their families too. Because you never know how far that kind word, that appreciation, will go.


  1. Great post! My dad is a vet, Vietnam. (Not everyone was so thankful then.) Military families ROCK! Thanks for writing -- the kids and I make it a point to pray for our troops and their families every night!! Many blessings to you and yours!

    Jennifer P.


  2. My parents were also Vietnam vets - and I know how ashamed they were made to feel. I hope that no soldier is ever made to feel so ashamed again. If anyone should be made to feel ashamed it is the politicians!!!

    I appreciate the prayers :)