On a recent trip to visit a family, we stayed up late every night and parked ourselves on the couch every morning for a marathon viewing of "Survivor." The dad, divorced and recently back from Afghanistan, had recorded the most recent season while deployed, and we enjoyed it with him and his daughters who were visiting for the summer. As with normal viewing of the show, we all commented back to the TV during nasty or ridiculous moments, or while fast-forwarding through commercials, stated who we liked, or didn’t like, and why.
And then came the oh-so emotional time when the contestants were able finally to see family. Finally as in: we've been separated for 30 days.
That's just a TDY!
We were were not moved to tears; rather we were moved to get-reals. We all burst out laughing and then yelled, “Are you kidding me?” The 13-year-old daughter, who knows the difficulty of separation when she lives five states away not to mention the six months her dad was deployed, accurately summed up the feelings of the room when she stated, “It has been thirty days, people … get a grip!”
I realize it is hot/cold/wet/uncomfortable on the island; the stress of not having food/bed/shelter all while playing a stressful game can make a beautiful setting not enjoyable one bit. But c’mon. Seriously? The crying and joy of seeing family after 30 days was completely lost on us … two military families who said "goodbye" to military members headed into war zones for waaaay more than thirty days. Where, guess what, it is hot/cold/uncomfortable. Where people aren’t just trying to outwit/outplay/outlast you, but KILL you.
As with the unrealistic tear-jerker book commercial, this was not a tear-jerk moment for me … it was a moment of how lucky some families have it and how out of sync most of America must be when it comes to danger and sacrifice. Where being apart for 30 days is the longest they have gone with not seeing one another, and they just cannot understand how they have made it through.
Welcome to just a small part of our world.
Does our lack of emotional connection to those TV moments make us jaded, or does it mean we have a better grasp of what sacrifice and separation means?
And wouldn’t it be wonderful if every military member got a million dollars for surviving?