In a few days my brother-in-law is getting deployed for 9 months.
This is his second trip to the hot, dusty, brown and barren lands full of tanks and giant helicopters and walls and gunfire and what I can only imagine are terrifying noises and things that go bump in the night, but last year he was only gone for 4 months.
9 is a lot longer.
He's only been in the Army for 2 years (was in the Marines years ago and recently reenlisted) but in that short amount of time has worked his ass off acing just about every class and test he's taken (he's an Information Systems Specialist), is already a Corporal and was actually tapped by a few senior officers to deploy early with them this time. We're very proud of him.
I hope you are, too.
Because it takes a special and honorable person to do what he does. To want to be an asset to this country despite having to leave his family for 9 long months - through birthdays, holidays, and, more importantly, random ordinary days. To live in a converted shipping container with only a cot, a scratchy blanket and a flattened pillow to sleep on. To not have the luxury to enjoy the changing seasons or to take an evening walk or to snuggle with your pets or even take a boring trip to the grocery store. To not be able to go to Target.
And I don't say these things to elicit sympathy. Because let me tell you, a large contingent of the population is quick to offer their condolences when I tell them my BIL is deploying, but they shouldn't be sorry. What many tend to forget is that no one is making these men and women give up all of these luxuries, leave their families and put themselves in harm's way; they volunteered for this job, and being an advocate and a representative of democracy is precisely what makes their skin tingle and gives them purpose (despite not being able to go to Target). And regardless of your politics or if you agree with the reasons they are over there, they are over there. And for every deployed soldier there are so many more who care about them waiting at home and praying every day for their safe and swift return. Listen, I know I'm not telling you something you don't already know, but as the years continue to pass and there are still deployed soldiers in dangerous, far away lands, many people tend to naturally forget about them. But when it hits your family...you don't forget.
My sister is putting on her brave face and gearing up to hold down the fort until next summer. She texted me this ecard yesterday -
As you can see, she's keeping her sense of humor.
But it will be tough, the next 9 months, no question. And with her all the way in Texas, it will also be hard for the rest of us who wish we could be there to grab a coffee with her or take her to dinner or hang out and watch stupid TV with her to help distract her from the demons that are sure to invade her mind from time to time.
What we can do, though, is to keep the faith. Keep thinking positive thoughts and sending prayers up to whoever or whatever we believe in - especially in times like these - for both of them...for all of them.
So today isn't for a silly story about one of my kids or a time to be snarky about a celebrity - today is for my serious face and for sharing my heart full of pride and confidence and light for my brother-in-law (and for my sister).
We'll be thinking of you every day.
We're behind you - always.
Be safe. Be brave. KICK ASS.