We often discuss the differences between civilian life and military life here at SpouseBUZZ. One of the topics we've covered pretty extensively is how often we're geographically separated from family and how, due to a variety of factors, we are unable to see them as often as most of us would prefer.
Last week, we buried my grandmother. Over the past few years when I visited her, it was to see her and I rarely saw my extended family, so I knew that I'd be the one who had missed family reunions, funerals, weddings and births. I anticipated that the conversations I would have with my family would revolve around catching up. Blanks would be filled in. Huge blanks. We would say how great it was to see each other "after all these years." And it happened exactly that way, but something else happened, too. Something that surprised me. Something I hadn't even considered.
As I was catching up with one cousin, another cousin would approach and they would hug and say to one another, "how long has it been?" They didn't say that to me, they said it to each other. My lovely Great Aunt even said, "It's a shame that it takes a funeral to get all of us together." For the most part, they all live pretty close to one another.
I have always assumed that if I were a civilian, I would see extended family fairly often, or at least be able to recognize them if we passed on the street. So here I was thinking that I would be the one surprised to see how kids have grown, to learn who graduated from college, who was now married, who had moved, how the town had changed, etc.. Turns out, I wasn't the only one. Now don't get me wrong, they have seen each other since I've seen them, but many of them had not seen each other as often as I assumed they had.
For all of the sadness that came with burying my grandmother, a lot of goodness came, too. I was able to spend some quality time with my relatives, most of whom I had not seen in well over ten years. I was reminded where I came from and how lucky I am to be a part of such a wonderful family. I am truly blessed. Truly. For a bit of irony, I found out that one of my cousins is now an Army wife!
We're all busy, military or not. We have our own lives and our own families to take care of. Life is hectic. For everyone. It's hard to stay as connected to each other as we would like. It's true that military families face unique challenges. Even so, I was reminded last week that in some respects, we're not that different from civilians, after all.
Having said that, I can -- and should -- do better than once every 10-15 years...