Between Two Worlds (Redux)
Sunday, January 15, 2006
I have recently come to the conclusion that when you have someone deployed, you live in two worlds: "This" world and "THAT" world. In This World, everything goes on as normal. You go to work (for those that work), do the laundry, clean the house, pay the bills...… You know -- all the things "normal" people do.
But we're not normal. We also live in THAT World -- the world where the telephone ringing in the middle of the night is normal 'cause it's morning over there. The world where news is everything and vague reports of improvised explosive devices can raise your heart rate 10 beats a minute and unconfirmed reports of soldiers' deaths can cause you to inhale involuntarily. The world that can fall apart in an instant when the caller ID says it's Fort _____ or there's a knock at the door and the chaplain is standing there.
In This World, holidays are a day off or a reason to shop. In THAT World, holidays are markers of time passing... merely milestones until homecoming. First we got through Valentine's Day,… then Easter (telling ourselves that they'll be home next Easter), then Memorial Day (oh how we'll celebrate next Memorial Day!), Independence Day (we'll have the best barbecue next 4th!), Labor Day, Columbus Day...… just marking time in THAT World... the World where you live between goodbyes and hellos until it's goodbyes again.
In This World, birthdays and anniversaries, the births of children, the marriages of friends and family are celebrated with a degree of sadness because your soldier is not here... your soldier is in harm's way. Can you ever truly celebrate in This World when your heart is mostly in THAT World? We do but only because we are forced to live in This and THAT World.
In This World, shopping is a normal every day activity, but because we also live in ThHAT World, it is a lifeline to our soldier: shopping for the things they need...… the things they like..… the things that tie them to home -- to us...… tie them to This World and learning that soft toilet paper or their favorite brand of salsa may be more priceless than gold in THAT World.
In This World there are 24 hours in a day, but because we also live in THAT World, we live a parralel 24. As we progress through our days in This World, we are calculating the time in THAT World and conjuring up pictures of what our soldier is doing at that moment. When we eat we wonder if they had a hot meal today...… when we shower we wonder if they had hot water for a shower or whether it was a water bottle rinse off...… we wonder if the mail even got through today. In This World, "Where did the time go?" is a simple phrase. In THAT World, it is a blessing that the hour or day went quickly because in THAT World time passes excruciatingly slow --… especially those last few days until that plane touches down and the senior officer yells, "Dismissed!"
In This World, you are brave, tough, and supportive and you dare not admit to many that in That World you are also weary, frightened, worried sick, and lonesome for your soldier and sometimes you cry about it for him and for you.
In This World, you smile politely when someone asks about the yellow ribbon pin or the purple ... bracelet you wear... and you smile broadly when they ask you to thank your soldier for their service in That World.
Before this deployment, I thought that once our son -- once Our Guys -- were home, I would return to living in just one world -- This World. However, now that the deployment is over, I have come to realize that a part of me will always live between the two worlds. That World is now an integral part of This World for me... as it is for many others.
In This World, your friends are those you know in your neighborhood and from the PTA or Lions Club meetings. For the families of those deployed, our friends in This World include everyone that understands all too well THAT World: friends that are serving, those that have served, the families of those that are deployed, have been deployed or are deploying and the people that really do support them... always ready with a helping hand, an encouraging word, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold in good times and bad. THAT World is a big world inhabited by a large family of which I am proud to be a member and for which I will forever be grateful.
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