This evening I sat at a large table surrounded by my Cav sisters and watched a Sergeant Major cry.
I couldn't help looking at his sew-ons while trying to look anywhere but into his tearing eyes. A Ranger, a Pathfinder, a Jump Master, you name it and it was on his chest.
He was acting as the CAO (casualty assistance officer) for his fallen friend and he was in our upper-level Care Team training offering his perspective.
A Ranger. A Pathfinder. A Jump Master.
A Sergeant Major.
In tears. Taking a moment to breathe.
I don't know what the future holds for us. I don't know if C has served on his last combat deployment. Every part of me thinks he has. Every part of me believes we are past it. That I will never be the one on the other side of that doorbell. That it will never be me. That I never have to fear it again.
I don't know how to explain the jumble inside of my heart. I sat surrounded by women who would be on these teams. Who would stand up and go if called upon. Who I have all the faith in, and respect, and admiration for what they are willing to do.
Every part of me felt total and complete guilt as I sat there knowing I most likely will not be with them. That from now on C should be safe.
Every part of me finds comfort and gratitude in that. Every part of me is thankful for the service he has given and for the position he has been selected for. Every piece of my heart is thankful for this new path ahead.
I don't know how to explain carrying that immense gratitude and at the very same time carrying complete guilt. I feel I am abandoning our families - and the families of our troop are very much our families. I hate that they may fight through a deployment that I may not be fighting through with them. I feel so very guilty that we may never live through that again. That I have let them down somehow. That I haven't given enough.
I - beyond words - know that this change was right for our family. I know the hours and hours of discussions and research and prayer led us to the right point. I have the deepest faith that what is to come will be meant for us. That I will have purpose in this new walk. That C will be where he can do the most good. I know how vital his future position is to the overall mission. I know this is a good fit for him. In my heart I know that this is the most difficult decision of C's career. I know that what I am feeling will never compare to what he must be carrying. Never.
But I want to be here with our families. I want to be here to do the most good that I know how to do. I know how to comfort. I know how to communicate. I know how to hold a child who is hurting, a spouse who is hurting. I know how to fight through a struggle, through murphy's law of deployment, through the hardest, darkest days. I know how to hold a hand and sit in silence. To my bones I know how to give all of me as a combat spouse.
I know how to watch a Sergeant Major cry and blink away my own tears.
People may never understand what these families give - what the families that surround me will continue to give. To sit at a table and to hear - in detail - how a fallen soldier's body is transferred, how long a period of time that can take in different instances. To hear gruesome, unimaginable scenarios, to know that the next time that could be your soldier and to still, STILL, despite all of that, stand up and say, "I will help. I am here. I care." takes more of a person than most can imagine. To just think of what a combat family carries day in and day out, in the months before a deployment through when their favorite boots are in theatre to when they again sit inside their doors ... to carry that and to thrive through life! It takes your entire self. It takes the deepest determination and patience and understanding. It takes the most profound love. The most tested faith.
It has been my honor to stand among these families. It has been my joy to watch young spouses thrive. I have been humbled by the strength surrounding me, by the will, the resilience. Awed by the selflessness of these families.
Every moment that I remain with you, I can promise you will have all of me. Every move I make in your circles will be with the full intent to build you up, to do good, to make a positive change. For however long I have the honor to stand with you, you will have my whole heart. The day we leave this unit, the day we walk away to begin the next chapter, will be an emotional, emotional day. I hope I will have done enough. I hope I will have given enough to try with everything in me to repay the smallest bit of the debt we owe the men and women who serve our nation. I hope I will have done the most good.