Sunday, March 14, 2004

A Thank-You Card

Blackfive links to this article about First Lady Laura Bush personally thanking military spouses for their sacrifices.

This means a lot to me because I was a military spouse for several years, during which time my husband spent time in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and various stateside locations. Whenever he would leave, people would very kindly offer their assistance ("Call me if you need anything"), but because we didn't own a house or have the World's Cutest Kids at that time, I didn't really need a lot of help. More recently I sat on the couch in the lobby at church with a friend whose husband just left for Iraq. It was like a receiving line at a wedding-- everyone who walked past asked when he had left, how she was doing, and concluded with those same words, "Call me if you need anything." After a while she wished she had a big sign that said "He left last week, yes I'm fine, I'll call you if I need anything." It's nice to know there's so much sympathy. I'm inclined to believe it's sincere if not very deep, but she was more skeptical. And besides, what can they do for a strong woman like her? A husband does much, much more for his wife than yardwork. Are they going to lay next to her at night and snuggle her in their arms? Sympathy doesn't fill that void.

After sitting with her I got to thinking about what it was that I needed that I didn't get when my husband was gone, and I came to the conclusion that there was one thing that no one gave me that really would have meant a lot to me. That thing was gratitude. Everyone was full of sympathy for my hubby's sacrifice for his country, but no one really seemed to consider my sacrifice. I didn't need their help to keep up the yard, watch kids, earn money, or even open jam jars. But what would have really meant something is if someone, anyone, had acknowledged that when my husband served overseas I was giving up something too; he wasn't the only one making the sacrifice. Oddly enough, even though the other military wives understood this (and stood by each other for support), not a single one of us ever thanked the others for our sacrifice.

So I made a point of writing a thank-you note to each of the wives of the church members who left for Iraq, including the one that had no children. I made yellow ribbon pins for each of them and for their children as a little gift.