By Adrienne Stravitsch, military brat, Army Spouse
I come from red, white, blue. From greens, blacks, and browns. Olive drab. I come from everywhere and nowhere; I have no hometown, but have had many homes. Everywhere. Kansas. Texas. Italy. Korea. Many more. There is consistency in my nomadic existence. Moving to a new place every year or two. It’s like a clock, ticking. You hear it all the time. And then the alarm goes off; you feel it. It’s time to move on. Time for the familiar smell of cardboard, the sound of ripping tape. Time to say good-bye to friends you made. And likely, you’ll never see them again.
I come from places far from extended family. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins were all strangers to me. I hardly knew them. I kept in touch with only a few, because the others didn’t respond to letters I wrote. The letters were the only way I knew of forging and maintaining a relationship with anyone outside of my home. Outside of my life of change.
I come from constant change. Nothing ever stays the same. Homes change. Locations change. Languages changed. His role in our family changed. Here and then gone, here and then gone. Tearful good-byes, sporadic phone calls, trips to the airport to pick him up. Again. Watching Mom sleep alone, sit alone, eat alone, live alone, function alone. Wondering how she did it, wondering if her heart hurt as much as mine did.
I come from watching him serve. Serve others. Serve us. Serve his country. Our country. Watching him leave at 5 a.m and come home at 7:30 at night. Respond to emails and phone calls constantly. Working out, staying fit. Staying ready. Ready for the call. The call that, lucky for him, never came. Though, it came in other forms. Watching him lead, direct. Implement change and good in the hospitals. Watching him change and benefit lives. People. Because he saw them as people. Never did I think I would find someone as humble and serving as him.
I come from choosing to reenter this life. From meeting him, and knowing he had that serving heart. I come from knowing what I said yes to. I do. I will. Serving him, who serves us. So noble, so humble. So giving to us, to his men and women in uniform. To his family. He loves deeply, commits deeply, gives deeply. Inspires me deeply.
I come from constant good-byes. For long periods of time. From rocking wailing children, aching with separation. From hugs and kisses. I come from War. I come from praying for peace, strength. Patience. I come from resiliency, but also from exhaustion. I come from pride in him, in our country. I come from knowing firsthand what we give.. Our lives together. Our evenings, our memories that we’ll never make, our time together with our children.
I come from lying in bed alone at night, fighting the ache in my heart, praying he’ll come home soon. Just praying he’ll come home. Praying I’ll hear his breathing next to me again. I come from worry-fear of death, fear of the doorbell. I come from breaking down, giving release to hot tears, when no one is looking. I come from Faith. Hard, real Faith. Because, sometimes, Faith is all I have to grasp.
I come from what we call family, though we share no real relation. I come from those who will drop everything to come help. Bring dinner. Bring flowers. Hugs. And wine. Who will hold you tight when you are aching and watch your children so you can catch your breath. And I do it for them. I come from the Family who understands what you give. Understands separation. Because they give it, too. They live the separations, too.
I come from Welcome Home! Posters, tears, hugs. I come from the other end of, “Thank you for your service.” You’re welcome. I think. From the house strewn with decoration. With red, white and blue. I come from trying, again, to find normal for us, a new normal. Giving up control, letting him lead again. I come from trying to refit our lives together. Struggle, friction, humility. Being home. Together. I come from cherishing every moment-every single moment-because we don’t know when the call will come. The call to go. Again.
Me? I come from nowhere, because I come from everywhere.