They wrote blog after blog of what we've come to refer to as "She Said/She Said" (as well as every variation we've been able to create a conversation around).
This is one of their earlier conversations.
On rare occasions, between the anger of constant separations, the crying of children missing their father, and the overwhelmed sigh of me, the person seemingly stuck in this quagmire, I see glimmers of my “happily-ever-after” marriage. Almost like subliminal images instilled in an old silent film.
I imagine watching myself from a chair in an abandoned film house. I see myself on the celluloid screen. See the faint smile and the miming motion of swirling life. I see my arms wrap around my children and see their willing arms wrap around my neck. Our words pop onto the screen. “I love you, honey,” is written in white on a black screen with delicate fancy framework.
We are happy. Functioning. Living. Moving and breathing.
But it isn’t until he enters from stage left that our world begins to expand. The black and white images burst with explosive Technicolor. Our words, no longer mimed in silence, inject themselves onto our tongues. Our explosive reactions thunder from the surrounding speakers. “Daddy!” my children scream. “Hi, babies!” he answers.
Our children, in their new neon-colored clothes run to his open arms. Their laughter, loud and boisterous, echoes throughout the theater.
We fall in with him, walking toward a glowing sunset and feeling the warmth of the day. Our shoulders, no longer drooping, push back and our hands, no longer searching, encircle and graze over his. The credits begin to roll as we stand, stoic and proud, basking in the colorful glow of happiness.
When they are sleeping soundly and happily in their beds, I turn to him. When all is quiet, I release stories of our life without him. I tell him about our growing children, about our lives apart from him. He responds, telling jokes and filling the air between us. I laugh. So hard and full that I begin to realize how empty I feel when he isn’t next to me.
A tear fills my eyes, and he leans in, his hands cupping my face. “You okay?” he asks. I sigh. Feeling the heat radiating from his hand. “Yeah,” I say. “I just realized that I don’t laugh when you are gone. Well, I mean….I do. I enjoy myself. But, I don’t laugh until I’m dizzy unless you are next to me.” The tear that haunted him falls from my eye. He wipes it clean, leans into my ear, and whispers, “Then we will just learn to exist between the laughs.”
I can’t imagine any other way.
Depression can be expressed in many different degrees. It can be as unnoticeable as a smile never quite reaching your eyes or as severe as not wanting to get out of bed and attempted suicide. If these symptoms do get severe please talk to a professional. They can help and we all need some help sometimes; even the strong military wife.
When our soldiers leave it is as if they take with them all our joy and happiness. It walks out the door with them. What is left is a shell of ourselves that is doing everything that we are supposed to but with a hint of sadness behind the eyes and sometimes more then just a hint. We need to find ways to get past the sadness, the loss, and live between the laughter.
First, we need to come to terms with the fact that it is OK to live while they are gone. We tend to put our lives on hold and not want to do anything that they might want to do with us. They miss out on a lot of stuff: births, birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. It is OK to enjoy these things while they are gone. We can’t possible enjoy them as much as when our soldiers are here, but we have to give ourselves permission to be happy when we can and not to feel guilty about having a little joy.
Our soldiers try and grasp onto some happiness when they can. It might be in the form of an extra piece of pie in the chow hall, a cigar outside with some buddies, practical jokes, or a poker game. They allow themselves to smile in the midst of war. We are allowed to smile in the midst of war. It is alright to forget our agony for a minute or two. It is OK to want to laugh.