Yesterday I wrote a post about birthdays– which got me thinking about my daughter's birthday, coming next week. It reminds me not only to send her gift–but it also reminds me that she'll spend her birthday the same way she spent her anniversary two weeks ago.
Alli and her husband Shane are very happily married. But he didn't give her a gift. Didn't take her out to dinner. Didn't send flowers. Or a card. He didn't even call.
Alli will be in their apartment in El Paso on her birthday. While Shane will be in the same place he was on their anniversary. They call it NTC. In the army everything is an acronym. NTC is the National Training Center. A place out in the Califoria desert somewhere that replicates the conditions in another desert across the world. It's where we send our soldiers for special training before they leave for Iraq.
He's been there since right after New Year's. In a way, spending 5 weeks apart with no communication is good practice for the 12 months Shane will spend in Iraq. And they're already used to this–he was gone 15 months in Iraq last time.
To Alli and Shane, this is part of the job. Business as usual.
Because this is what Alli signed up for when she married him and this is what Shane signed up for when he entered the army.
This reality is something easily overlooked amid all the changes coming with Obama. Because even the end of this war, or any war, will never change our need for a military. Our need for people like Shane and their families to serve; their willingness to accept hardships and continue making the sacrifices that require celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and all special occasions far apart from the people they love.
Since they got married 4 years ago, Alli and Shane have only spent one anniversary together.
To me, that's an unthinkable situation for my daughter who, after all, inherited my drama queen DNA. But it's not unthinkable to Alli. Her drama gene seems dormant when it comes to the army and the sacrifices required. She doesn't make a big deal about the separations. She doesn't complain. She accepts that as part of the deal. She doesn't feel sorry for herself about spending her anniversary alone; and I'm sure she won't feel sorry for herself on her birthday next week. But I will.