In four minutes, while the three "men" (well one man and two little boys) in my life are all sleep, I know that I will hear TAPS played over the speakers on post. The haunting and calming music will softly echo through the mountain post.
It slows my breathing every time. Stops me from whatever I am doing or watching or thinking. Sends chills down my back. Scares me and comforts me. Soothes me and haunts me.
Every night, at ten in the evening, TAPS will play and my world will pause.
Every morning, I hear the boom of the cannon accompany reveille. Every morning that trumpet sounds. Every evening I hear the boom again as the flag is lowered for the day.
Day in and day out I can hear the echo of gunfire as soldiers train on ranges.
Pop. Pop. Pop.
While walking along the trails, waiting with Logan for the bus, taking Eli into the hourly care, I can hear the popping.
Nearly every time I take the road leading off post closer to the ranges, traffic is stopped by two soldiers as large tan vehicles pass across the main road. Tanks and trucks with large guns on top, the benches in the trucks filled with rows of soldiers sitting with guns in hand as they travel in from the field or out to the ranges.
To get to my home after frequenting Target or HL, I have to stop at a gate and hand an armed guard my military I.D. Every time I want to return to my home from outside the gates I have to prove that I am supposed to be there.
How interesting this life must seem to those on the outside.
Every time a civilian friend visits or a family member I laugh as their eyes widen when an armored vehicle pulls up beside us, or a soldier is on the ground doing pushups, or a trumpet blares the signal for lunch. I smile as the foolish grin covers their faces as we pass soldiers in formation, or when they see an obstacle course and they say, "Do they really climb that?"
How strange it must be that it isn't strange that we see multiple black hawks and apaches flying overhead daily. How much I would have loved to watch one of my best friend's faces while I watched three black hawks land at the exact same time while I was sitting at the stop light nearest C's office.
I wonder what my mom will think if she goes into C's office this week and sees the triangular sign on the entrance door that says "explosives".
It is incredible when we think about what is our normal. What is our everyday, our "taking for granted," our "just the way it is." I wonder how much I don't notice anymore. How much would amaze the average American.
I will never forget the day I visited C while we were dating and he told me I couldn't pump gas on post. Do you remember the first time you heard that?
I love that I can drive to the commissary and see Cav Scouts on horseback in the area just in front of headquarters. I love that I pass soldiers rucking along the path near the golf course. I love that I can pass down a road and I know if my husband is in his office or not by whether or not there is a guidon outside. I love that Logan watches the sky when he hears the sound of those helicopter blades.
I love that I am learning what the different boots mean on different soldiers when I never noticed those things before. I love that I have neighbors who knock on my door with a plate of food and a glass of wine because they notice when C's jeep has been missing for a while. I love that when I see a certain uniform at a certain time, I need to say an extra prayer for that soldier because he just came home or he is just about to leave.
I love that the little things that go unnoticed by everyone else, are the things that we find the most meaning in. I love that while to everyone else the trumpet in the morning may seem a nuisance, it means for one spouse another day closer to reunion. I love that while to many TAPS playing throughout the foothills is simply beautiful, to those who hear it night in and night out it means far more.
I love this life. With my whole heart, I love this life.
Sometimes - just sometimes - I forget just how beautifully different it is.