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The Bandaids On Our Hearts

Today I went to a memorial service for a soldier in our brigade.  I didn't know this man and neither did my husband, but after hearing the eulogies, I think we would've liked him.

He left behind a wife and four kids.

You know, it does horrible things to your heart to sit back on the homefront and watch other people's husbands die...

When you sit there in a memorial service, and you look at all the photos of the soldier and hear the kind words, you can't help but imagine what people would say about your own spouse.  How would they describe him?  What photos capture who he is?  Would a fellow soldier swallow back tears while speaking about my husband?

It is so hard for us spouses to do this, over and over, for years.  To attend these services and watch our friends and neighbors grieve.  And to constantly put ourselves in their shoes.

When Andi posted the link to another milspouse's piece on this war-weary nation, I had a hard time explaining what bothered me about the comments section over at CNN.  Many people told this wife that she wasn't special, that they too knew people serving.  And perhaps many of them did.  But did they attend the memorial services?  Did they put themselves in the widows' shoes?  Have they done this repeatedly for friends and colleagues?

Because that's what is hard.  Of course it's hard to worry about all of our troops, especially the one you care about the most.  It's just as hard if it's your nephew or your cousin.  But it's another thing to have the bandaid ripped off your heart repeatedly when you attend yet another memorial service.

It's hard to have your fences breached, as fellow milspouse Tim called it when his wife was deployed.  And this one breached several of my fences today.

It's hard to sit in that chapel and feel sorry for the wife, and then secretly grateful it isn't you in that first pew, and then guilty, and then sad again.

It's hard to have the thought that we'd better take a family photo before he deploys, because that's the one that's going to be enlarged on an easel during his memorial service.

It's hard to attend memorial services for people you've never met, just because you want to show your support.  Because it's the right thing to do.  It would be so much easier to just stay home.  But you make yourself go, and you cry because they always sound like wonderful people, and you wish you'd had the chance to meet him before he was gone.

It's hard.  And I've been lucky that it hasn't touched my life in a while.  Until today.

The bandaid has been ripped off.

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