The past 2 or 3 weeks, I feel like I've been unfurling my destiny. I think before now I honestly believed in free will...and I still do, to some degree. But you know...genetic inevitability keeps rearing its ugly head. Here's a quick look at my family tree:
So what we've got here is me, born on an Air Force Base, to a guy who just retired as a Colonel, who was born to a Navy officer, who also has a son who's in the Air Force and married to someone in the Air Force. I was born to my mom, whose oldest brother was in the Guard (I think) and whose other older brother was in the Air Force (graduated in '69 from the Academy I believe, then perished in Vietnam). The oldest brother's son, my cousin, tried to join the Navy but couldn't be a pilot because of his sight. That's the immediate family.
Then, there's Nick's family...his mom and dad met in the Air Force (they were both officers I believe). His mom was the Adjutant General of the VT ANG for a while. She's remarried recently to a guy, Paul, who's a Marine. I'm sure there are other cousins involved and I think his grandfather was in the Army.
So what am I getting at here? Well, Quilts of Valor is about to become very close to my heart. Nick has, 85-90% sure, decided to join the Marine Reserve as an officer. He's going to have a decision made by next week, but is planning on signing papers next Friday.
Now, I was raised military. Until this week, I really hadn't been able to comprehend my mom's grace and composure. I mean...the woman is a saint. But we all knew that. For 24ish years, she served in the military as loving wife and mother. If moving around a lot and watching Dad leave periodically to places we'd never even heard of (and often didn't hear of until he got back) ever shook her, she never let us see it. I honestly do not remember a single instance where my mom cried in front of us. At least not about that.
This week I've been faced with what I can only describe as a woman's most awful dilemma. Nick is the love of my life and the man I hope to marry in the foreseeable future. (He keeps saying he's "not sure if he's going to propose yet anyways", tongue fully in cheek, and I keep telling him I'm not sure I'd say yes anyways. Keep your eye out for a picture of something shiny, sometime before June.) He's been working at a thankless job, doing stuff that is, at best, not terribly challenging. He's extremely smart, hardworking, and a natural leader. Until last week, I have never seen him so lit up as I have in the past week. He's decided to join the Reserves as a challenge, and I keep saying if he wants a challenge I'll just buy him a Rubik's Cube. In any case, here's the dilemma: I know that joining the military will make him happy. I know it won't just make him happy, it'll make him fulfilled, and purposeful. But I also know that there is a more than 50/50 chance that he will end up in some sandy, God-forsaken land for the majority of the next 4 years. We don't have kids and don't want them yet. But you know what? I really like knowing that there's no one pointing a gun at him. I really like knowing that, if he's not next to me in bed tonight, he's at his house and I'm at mine and we're both safe. I like knowing we're in the same time zone, and that there's no one screaming at him and shoving his face in the mud. I like that.
But that's not my job, as his potential mate. My job is to be his rock, to encourage him to follow his dreams, and to find the faith to pray that he comes home safely. Ladies, I don't know if any of you out there can identify with this. I've been near-tears for days now, but the irony is that when I'm with Nick he's so happy with the idea of this immense challenge that I can't help but get excited for him. I can't help but encourage him and find out how to live like a military family on our own. I can't help falling into a role that I was basically raised to fill...I can't help being a military wifey. But man...when he's not here, all I can think of is how long he won't be around, and how scared I'll be until I can hear his voice telling me he's still alive.
I saw this on a friend's facebook page and it just hit home for me: "Yes, the military changes you, but most of all it brings you closer to people you love. There are long separations, uncertain schedules, and so many sad goodbyes lots of reasons to cry together and to laugh at yourself. You're reminded every day of what you have, and what you have to lose. If only everyone were so lucky." --Nicole Hunter
My heart is aching at the thought of being away from him for so long...a year for training and then who knows how long for deployment? I told him his punishment would be to watch me cry every time he left. He hates it when I cry. I feel the punishment fits the crime. :-)
In any case. If you're still reading, thanks for watching me ramble. I am scared, but I am strong. I jumped off a 440 ft high bridge...I can do anything. :-)