It has been some time since I was reminded how different our world is from the one outside of it. Last night a stranger was speaking to a new friend and I about this lifestyle. My new friend - whose husband is in the same new job as C - will deploy almost immediately after arrival to his new duty station.
The strangers eyes grew larger when she asked "Where would he be going?" B and I looked at each other.
"Please don't think they aren't still there," I said with a smile.
"Afghanistan," B said.
She was honestly, truly surprised.
So many times we have heard it, and do hear it, and will hear it. How different our reality is from the one the media, the country, the everything presents.
Friends boarded those planes yesterday. Friends will board those planes tomorrow. And the next week, and a few months down the road. And nine months down the road.
We are still there.
She asked us about sequestration. I won't ever write about that. I don't have the stomach or the grace or a low enough blood-pressure to write about that. But she had no idea how real it is for us. What all this will change, how it will affect those who have given all, whose families have given all, the civilian jobs that will be lost, the communities that will be devastated, the world that will change.
The vulnerability we will force on our nation.
Because nothing shows it the way it actually is and could be and will be.
We are all holding our breath. Listening to everyone have an opinion on something they know next to nothing about. Listening to people say that we are no longer fighting a war that our spouses or our children or our sisters and brothers or friends are currently fighting or preparing to fight.
Listening to ignorance while black cars still quietly roll down a street looking for the right house. While we quietly peek out our windows to see two soldiers exit - a chaplain and a CNO. Staying silent while we still hear the sounds of freedom while our loved ones leave us to train in the field. While the gear is thrown all over a room - or many rooms - knowing it will somehow fit into two bags. While the clock ticks and ticks and ticks down to someone we love boarding that plane. To that much too difficult "see you soon".
We welcome them home and see the soldiers rejoin their units - without their legs, with bandages wrapped around their faces, missing their arms, their fingers, their ears. Those who still can, they listen. They hear it.
Listening to the comments and the confusion knowing why people can think that - understanding fully how differently our world paints our reality - our life. How differently everyone else tells our story. We listen.
Putting our heads down when people ask us how we feel about what is happening once they get a real glimpse into the life we live. Looking at our hands. At our feet. Anywhere but into their eyes.
Listening and remaining silent.
Because we don't talk about these things. We love our nation. We love it with every fiber of who we are, of who we strive to be. Our hearts break for it. They beat for it. We live and die for it.
And we hear everything that is untrue and so wrong and nothing near the life we give our entire self to. We hear every word, we see every headline. We listen.
We squeeze each others hands. We pray for grace. We take a slow breath. You learn to breathe in a way that calms your whole body when all you want to do is shake the person with the lie.
We break our hearts for a nation who doesn't understand.