I never know how to act when Memorial Day rolls around. This is not a day that we celebrate nor do I try to talk about it with my husband R.
He’s known too many people who have died, far too many for people in other careers. I know that R misses his friends more than actual places where we have been stationed probably more now than ever. He’s made friends here in California but can sympathize that there’s just something about living near a base. There is a sense of community that binds us together if we fight against it. Unspoken bonds like living without our spouses for months at a time and married-single-parenting. Civilians can try and want to understand but there’s nothing like knowing that every single person around you is going through something similar.
R doesn’t stop watching the news and scanning news websites even after his time in the military. He has been to nearly every corner of the world and truly immersed himself with the people and cultures wherever he’s been. Why wouldn’t he want to know?
I would not. I stopped watching the news the first time R deplolyed. Perhaps in my naivete I believed that if I didn’t see anything bad happen on TV, nothing bad was happening to R.
When quite the opposite was happening one deployment at a time.
Whenever he came back, he was a little different like a tiny part of his soul was stolen. I didn’t notice it at the time but after his first deplolyment in many years, R came back in 2006 changed.
I couldn’t ignore his anxiety. He would involuntary shake when he heard a car drive too fast over the speed bump next to our house. I feel very fortunate that his anxiety never manifested itself violently towards me, our children, or himself. But in that moment I knew he was different. So many other new behaviors have manifested, so different from before.
Different in a way that Memorial Day is to our family. In many ways I find it difficult to acknowledge so I don’t. I don’t complain about how Memorial Day should be about the fallen, not veterans. I don’t complain that we shouldn’t put Memorial Day and “celebration” in the same sentence. I waited for R to talk about whether or not we wanted to make plans.
He didn’t. We didn’t.
It’s probably best that way.