Thursday, October 11, 2007

Reality Check

Today I had just a little taste of what it must be like to really be a war wife.

Most mornings, I get up about five minutes before the kids to read my e-mail. My husband almost always sends me one during the night. This morning I had no e-mail, but that isn't so out of the ordinary. Still, when I got home from dropping the kids off at school, I checked my e-mail again.

There was still no news from my husband, but I couldn't help but notice a news headline on the sign in page.

"Two dead in attack on Baghdad base."

Normally, when my husband is deployed I avoid any media coverage of anything. Even the most realistic and stoic of us can let our imaginations run amok when our loved one is far away and in danger. But I couldn't help but click on that link today.

And yes, there was a mortar or rocket attack on my husband's base.

Two people were killed and forty were injured. While I know that there are thousands of people on that base and the chances of him being hurt or killed are next to nothing, I still couldn't help imagining...what if?

The thought of him not coming back to us is unimaginable. Strangely, the thought of him being wounded is even harder to imagine.

I hate to admit it, but I spent the rest of my morning sitting in front of the computer refreshing my e-mail over and over again, waiting for word.

When he finally called me around noon, I didn't feel relief. I felt stupid. I felt silly. I felt embarrassed.

"We are at war, you know," he told me.

I know, but when you're a military wife you spend years telling yourself that your husband is safe because he flies a safe aircraft and he's good at his job. You tell yourself he's safe because he's not really near any action. You tell yourself he's safe because he has to be. No other option is acceptable.

And when you realize that he's not as safe as you like to imagine, it hits hard.

But I only overreacted for a few hours on a beautiful October morning. There are too many wives, mothers, husbands, fathers, children, families, and friends who have had to deal with the reality.

I can pretend all I want that my husband is just as safe over there as he would be here at home. But it's not really true.

Believe it or not, I think it helps me to have that reality check.

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