Saturday, September 15, 2007

The more things change...

Have you seen this week's Jenny comic strip? Definitely a case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

And it's not just the nomadic lifestyle. In this current climate of constant deployments and high stress for military families, this is another area where things have changed considerably from previous eras but so much has also stayed the same.

Previous military families who endured separations during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and so many more conflicts didn't have access to the communication technologies that we have today. Many of us are able to email or MotoMail our loved ones. Sometimes they are able to call us using morale calls or even satellite phones. Occasionally, units or even individuals are able to arrange VTCs (video tele-conferences) with our service members. Previous generations didn't have any of that.

But what hasn't changed? They are still gone, half a world away in a hostile environment. We still worry. And we wait. Our hearts still break a little each day. We wait and wonder about the person who will return. We wonder if they will still like and love the person we've become, the person they will be returning to. We wonder what we will do if they don't return. We wait and torture ourselves with all the "what ifs." We look at our children and mourn the time they've missed with a parent and all the events and milestones that the other parent has missed. We wait and worry about all the little things and all the big things. We wait while looking forward to homecoming with excitement and anxiety. They are still gone. We are still left behind waiting and trying to hold it all together. Waiting for them to step back into our shared life. That hasn't changed.

The book is not about a military family, but the first page of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife resonated with me in terms of being the one left to wait. It begins with these lines:
"....It's hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he's okay. It's hard to be the one who stays."
A little later, she asks: "Why is love intensified by absence?"
Then: "I wait for him. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?"

The waiting hasn't changed.

*update: I'm not recommending the book at this point as I haven't gotten very far in it yet. I'd only just started reading it and the first page just resonated a bit.


Val said...

All so very true.

The technology we have to stay in contact with our loved ones is incredible... and I'm so thankful for it.

But it doesn't make you any less alone when your husband walks out the door.

That's something that the usually well-meaning, "You're so lucky to have so many things for communication" commenters often forget.

Non-Essential Equipment said...

Excellent post. Very true.

dutchgirl said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same... Sometimes it's comforting to me to know that I'm not alone in those worries. Wonderful post, I'll have to add that book to my reading list.

Killjoy said...

Random reader here - I picked up that book several years ago for the same reason and loved the whole book, one of my all time favorites now. How are you liking it?