I don’t consider myself a particularly political person and I certainly intend to keep any political opinions I might have out of this blog, mostly because I don’t consider myself educated enough in the realm of politics to have strong, intelligent opinions. This sort of political apathy is on my bucket list to eradicate- I’m certainly not proud of it, but...speech pathology and baby comprise 99.3% of my brain currently. I also will be the first to admit that if I could have it my way, war & conflict & protection wouldn’t be necessary- we’d all love each other and ride unicorns and stare at rainbows all day. But, I recognize that just isn’t reality. And today, I’d like to say, I’m thankful.
Grace’s godfather & I met in 2nd grade, when the currency of friendship was sharing your fruit snacks. We grew up together. We kicked each other in the butt when we needed it (ok, maybe I did most of the kicking, but that’s another story for another day). We crammed for exams. We fought like siblings. We navigated first dates, crazy ex’s and college applications.
College? I moaned & whined & complained about having to go to UNH when my heart just belonged in Boston (seriously? How did you people put up with me..). He decided on the United States Naval Academy. He left shortly after graduation,foregoing his summer vacation for the first of many times. And trust me, I whined WAY more than he ever did.
While his high school classmates were sliding through easy gen-ed classes, playing hookie to get an early start on “Thirsty Thursday” & perfecting their beruit skills- he was studying. And having room inspections. And studying. And doing PT. And studying. You get the idea of just how fun his college experience was.
When college was over,when he shook the President of the United States (!) hand at his graduation-his journey was truly just beginning. Off to more schooling, uprooting his life every few months to move somewhere new. Coming home whenever he could. And in May? He will be deployed. To where? He won’t find out until January.
I know that he hears all the time how commendable it is that he has chosen a life of service. I have watched him receive this praise and do you know one of the things that makes me most proud to know him? How modestly he accepts this. How glaringly clear it is that those compliments, that attention- it has nothing to do with the choices he has made. He truly feels that being given an opportunity to serve his country is an honor. How hard he has worked, the sacrifices he has made...that, in his mind, was an honor.
I ran into his mom recently and we talked about how this will be the first holiday he will be unable to come home. And it struck me- as much as that disappointed me, how much Grace and I will miss having him home- I can’t begin to fathom what this feels like for his mother. As a mother myself, I take it for granted that Grace will be with me, every holiday, for the rest of my life. And she just sort of smiled and said “Life in the military..” and sighed.
For every commendable choice an individual makes, to enter into military service- there are millions of other people, who also have to sacrifice in little, equally important ways. Pieces of their heart. Their holiday plans. Girlfriends and wives who put their lives effectively on hold. Or who have to manage, alone. Mothers who wrestle with equal parts pride and dread. All in the name of our country. How can we feel anything but amazed by this?
When I first became pregnant, I was almost as scared to tell Billy as I was to tell my own parents. I was afraid that he would judge me, yell at me, or worst- be disappointed in me. After 14 years of friendship, I should have known better. He embraced it & moved on. He supported me without so much as a single disparaging comment.
Someone recently asked me if I regretted my choice of godfather for Grace, simply because he will probably not be around very often as she grows up. Absolutely, unequivocally no. I can think of no one better for my daughter to look up to. No one who will love her, across state lines,potentially across continents, in a way that will enable her to feel it all the way down to her toes. No one that she could possibly be prouder to call her own. Every time they see one another, it’s like they fall in love all over again. It makes their relationship that much more special & precious. If friends are the family that you chose- I’m overjoyed to have been able to chose him for Grace. As guidance. Confidante. And friend. She may not see him all the time, but his picture is on the wall in her room. And every night, after we read our stories, we say goodnight to Uncle Billy (Be-ee) & Auntie Erica (Ca-Ca...sorry about that :)) so that, until he is home again, until she can fully understand the paramount importance these people, this man, has and will play in her life- she won’t forget him.
Now don’t get me wrong- he’s not perfect & I’m not trying to make him look like he is. He’s human. He has the distinction of being the single-most stubborn human being I’ve ever encountered. He has strong opinions...about lots of things..and won’t hesitate for a second about telling you them. And he is always right. ALWAYS. This fact alone makes his girlfriend Erica a saint for putting up with him. But I’m still proud to call him one of my best friends. And her as well.
Today, I’m thankful. For the people who volunteer to do a job I would never be able to do. For the people who love them and support them behind the scenes, who know sacrifice and heartache like the back of their hands. And for Uncle “Be-ee”. So until we live in a world with peace and unicorns? Thank you for keeping on carrying on.
And your girls in New Hampshire? They’re missing you.
And Andrew is missing the other have of his bromance, his partner in crime.
Come home soon.
(And sorry if I embarrassed you - but, as I’m sure you’d be the first to remind me, you’re kind of a big deal)