Sebastian, our son, was born this past April. We had been a happy and well adjusted American family for 2 and a half years at that time. We then become something else; something sad and detached: a military family.
At the end of our “home cycle,” the time between deployments, comes transition. My husband, Jason, will either deploy or the whole family changes duty stations. These moves can be good and bad. A joke among Navy wives is “if you don’t like the town, wait 2 years,” the time between moves. We laugh and remember those moves filled with busy plans and excited packing; but there are other moves too. Moves that break the heart and the ties of new friends, promising careers and comforting places you had learned to call home.
The family “moves;” the military man “relocates.” Navy wives keep address books in pencil. The erasures are many and deep. We are quick to bring food during tragedy or blessing because we know how it all feels. We keep pictures on the fridge. We jealously guard frequent-flyer miles, in order to visit our husbands. We have boxes that are no longer worth unpacking. Yet, we keep the boxes for electronics, collectibles and wine glasses; even when one breaks.
Despite technology, we still hand-write notes and letters, especially to our deployed husbands and far-away friends. We clean sand, mud and dirt off our kitchen floors from all over the world. We put our careers on hold until retirement. We refuse tenure at wonderful schools and we get disappointed. But we are rarely afraid.
Why, you ask? Because we fell in love with men who fell in love with their country before us. We simply must wait.
Patiently wait for the sun to set, for the plane to land, wait for dinner and for him to come home and, mostly, wait for the tide to change.
Until then, we must be strong.
I will continue with my passions for Literature and Education. I will teach the children given to me in the town to which we are assigned. I will love them and teach them to love the great words of people past and present. I will share my enjoyment for “a good story” and the value of knowledge. I will, yet again, decline offers of tenure with a smile and a prayer. Because my country was founded by great men, and it is kept free by men who are even greater.
An old Navy blessing is wishing one “fair winds and following seas” as a family moves to the next transition.
The sea is a cruel mistress: she takes my husband away; but she also returns him home.