When I had just given birth to my fourth child, the physician who was on call that night noticed that my immunization record wasn't current. So he ordered a new tetanus shot to be given the following morning. Hospital policy dictated that I be taken down to the lab by wheelchair. I felt vulnerable in my open-back grey hospital gown, and white fish net underwear. I sat in my chair and waited for my number to come up. Only military people know how long those lines can be. But I had nowhere to go (until the next feeding that is).
There was this very young soldier sitting next to me with his white slip in hand. I struck up a friendly conversation with him. I felt the need to explain the folds of extra tummy sitting in my lap, and told him of my recent delivery. He consulted with me on the name choice. Big Girl can thank him for that someday if the fates allow. We went with his suggestion off our short list.
Then I asked him what he was waiting for. Anthrax shot. Long pause. You didn't hear about people getting those too often back then. He was deploying for Iraq the next day. Longer pause. It was just the beginning of this long thing, back in 2003. The next day it snowed so much we couldn't shovel out of our house for days. I looked out at the white stuff and thought about powdered antrhax. I wondered if his flight was delayed. I wonder where he is now. Did he make it home? And back? And home again?
Six years, and many immunizations later I have another child to account for and a husband who has been there and back. My opinions have changed. So has my political party (sorry Dad). I listen to different radio and news stations. I get mad when people don't recycle. I think back to the relationships I had back in 2003. (3 moves ago). My friends, some of them tree huggers, who I once worried about. What they would do if they only knew how I really felt about things then? (or how about the people reading this now-will they hate me because I am green?) Back then I was always a bit shy about my beliefs, wanting to keep the relationships intact. Now I am a convert so to speak, and should probably call them up and apologize for all the negative thoughts. One of my close friends had a husband who deployed and he was one of the first set of soldiers to go. He was featured on the Today Show once. One day, as we hung out in her basement she commented to me that she just hoped that our country was fighting for the right reasons and that it wasn't about something as stupid as oil. Her comment confused me. I thought we were fighting for freedom and democracy. For our safety.
We've been fighting so long, it seems we forgot what it's about. We are stuck in this thing like a little Dutch boy with his thumb in the dam holding back a catastrophe. That damn dam! (whoops sorry). There seems to be no end, despite what politicians may promise. When people reacted with sympathy for my situation while T was gone, I let them sympathize but every once in a while I was brave enough to tell them that it was our turn. How can I possibly say "why me" when so many have gone before us? Why not me? Why not us? This is what we signed up for when we let the army pay for medical school. This is the way it's set up. Although it sometimes seems a waste. A waste of human life. A poor choice that has been mishandled. But still, we must get up and do what needs to be done. Because that's what those who serve do. But when my husband starts talking about all the benefits of retiring with the army, I get a sinking feeling. Because who really knows where those who lead will take you as time goes by.