Monday, August 06, 2007

Greater Good

I wrote what follows last year, before our current deployment. I was inspired to make a few changes by a post on SpouseBuzz.

The Greater Good

My husband’s thoughts start turning to the next big thing he wants to do in his career. I’m not sure why he even bothers discussing it with me. Maybe he wants me to feel as though I have some control over what happens. The illusion is not working. The most I can hope to do is point out how difficult certain things could be in various locations (the ones I really, REALLY don’t want to go to) so that he lists it as his number two or three choice instead of as his first. Any of the places I suggest he try to go to are met with a blank look. Sure family life or liberty might be great there but how will that get him into the action, get him into a deployable unit? Duh, it won’t. But I’ll be happy. We’ve done the deployment thing and gotten the t-shirt but no family member wants to do it again.

There’s a scene in the Disney movie The Incredibles when Frozone is tearing through his apartment looking for his super-suit. His wife is preparing for a dinner party and is less than thrilled at his wanting to run off to save the world. Service members are a little like Frozone, grabbing their super-suits and leaving us behind for “the greater good.”

I was telling a non-military friend that my husband was itching to deploy again. It was killing him that his buddies and his Marines were over there and he wasn’t. She asked if he’s crazy. Well, yes, but I knew that before I married him. Clearly, he didn’t become a Marine to do a desk job. My husband likes to say that a smart Marine doesn’t whistle while he packs. It doesn’t mean that he wants to be separated from us, to miss chapters of our girls’ lives while living in challenging conditions. He just thinks there is something important that he needs to be doing, that he should be doing. When your service member is talking about needing to defend our country and our freedoms, how can you argue with that? A missed birthday or simply being home to take out the trash seems pretty unimportant next to that.

Despite my aggravation with the absences and how much my husband gives to the Marine Corps, I am proud of who my husband is and what he does. After all, his sense of duty and commitment to his country are part and parcel of who he is. These are some of the very reasons I fell in love with the man. The truth is, while a strong sense of duty and a desire to serve are admirable qualities, it is hard to be the one left behind for “the greater good.”

We were in San Francisco, on the first day of an overdue vacation, when 9/11 happened. We spent the morning in our hotel room at the Marine Memorial watching the news coverage while my husband made phone calls to his unit and I scrambled to change our travel plans to return home early. We later watched local coverage of people lining up to donate blood. They felt that was something immediate that they could do to help. My husband watched that and quietly commented that he was glad he was in a position to do more than just donate blood.
Damn super-suit.


Meredith said...

I love that original post. I had read it before - not sure when. Your post is great, too. The "not whistling comment" gives us some insight into how insistently duty calls a Marine and how surely they respond.

Amy said...

Great post--I got chills. I know it must be so hard on spouses of military people. Just know our thoughts are with you and him and all the rest of the men and women in their super-suits.

Shannon said...

You are my she-ro. You'll have to let me borrow your super suit someday.