The Deployment Diary

Friday, April 23, 2004

Day 227 - Down Time Equals Time to Think

I apologize for not writing - to the few that read regularly ;). The job finished on Monday and every time I sat down to write, nothing made sense.

I'd start on one subject and in a matter of paragraphs I'd either be contradicting myself or on an entirely new subject that had little or nothing to do with where I started.

It was obvious that 1) either the exhaustion had reached new levels or 2) I'm nothing more than a big contradiction. I prefer the former ;).

So, I took a few days. After trying to sever my thumb Monday night while my mind wandered when washing dishes, it was obvious three hours of sleep each night is not healthy nor prosperous for my hands ;).

I went to sleep last night at 7pm after putting the babies to bed. I woke up at 9pm. One of my husband's soldiers who had ETS'd out of the Army before the stop-loss started, called to check in. It seems my husband has an impact on a lot of people. I'll brag and say he's a great leader. A leader people follow because they want to, not because they have to.

When he was a drill sergeant, I went to the last graduation of recruits he'd have, since he would be coming off the trail before the end of another cycle. He was an OSUT (One Station Unit Training) Drill Sergeant and the cycles were long. He had about another three months on the trail and we'd be moving.

After the graduation ceremony, I was surprised to see so many young men and women coming up to my husband with tears in their eyes. Young people who hadn't had a father - or parents at all, some with extremely hard lives prior to joining, telling me and my husband what an impact he'd had on them. How they would strive for the excellence he'd expected of them - every day of their future careers. How they appreciated him for being so hard, yet so caring and willing to go the extra mile for them. Many conveying he was the closest thing to a father they'd ever had.

I knew my husband was a great man. I knew what an impact he had on my life. However, to hear soldier after soldier come up and want to shake his hand and shake my hand - and express words of love and admiration, reduced me to tears. It made me see my husband, the importance of his job and the years he had dedicated to the Army in a new light. He didn't care if the young women were coming from abusive relationships or a bad home life where they were abused or not valued as the special people they are; he didn't care if the young men were former gang members or had brushes with the law or punks who hadn't a clue when they arrived. To my husband, they were all soldiers now, all valuable people in their own right and it was their future that was important, not their past. He judged them all the same, by their actions in the moment, not the past. He was hard, but fair to each one equally.

And still, in the years after, although no longer training brand new recruits, he is leading soldiers in the most dangerous of places and still impacting them as he did so many years ago, as the scary intimidating Drill Sergeant with a heart of gold. A young man calling in the middle of the night to see how I (a woman he has never met) am doing - and how my husband is doing while still fighting in the deserts of Iraq, impacts me. It makes me even more proud of my husband - if that is possible. It makes me miss him in ways I never knew imaginable. I know deep down they need him more than I at the moment. However, at times of exhaustion, I'm selfish and wish I too could see him and be lead by him. But mostly, I just wish I could be held by him and tell him in person how much I love him and how very proud I am for all that he is and all that he does.

I love you dear, regardless of where you are, the miles that separate us and the months we endure life without you. Words can never do justice to what lives in my heart regarding you. A heart and soul that patiently awaits the day we're finally reunited...

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