Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Long Year and a Long December

“…and it’s a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.” – Counting Crows

So how do you define a good year? Is it a span of time marked by moments of happiness, notable achievements, and successes? Do the days punctuated by laughter have to outweigh those stained with tears, or is it a cumulative effect of how we recollect our overall experience of the preceding months as the church bells fade from midnight mass on Christmas Eve?

Sliding into December, it would be easy to look back and say this has been a bad year. By the time the ball drops in Times Square and people are kissing and singing Auld Lang Syne, I will have been apart from my wife for 349 days of 2005. That in itself is enough for 2005 to merit the moniker of “Bad Year” in my book.

During this time, Pam has had to deal with moving for the 5th time in as many years and 2 more moves to look forward to over the next year. She has had to deal with her own personal version of “Pacific Heights” tenants in our house, shady land managers, shoddy contractors, disrespectful and difficult Tri-Care and hospital employees, hospitalizations, and surgeries.

During this same time, aside from the normal trials and tribulations of military duty, I have traveled through 14 countries on 3 continents, trained in the snow, endured the stifling desert heat, experienced thunderstorms of biblical proportions, and witnessed brutal and indiscriminate devastation wrought by both man and nature.

And yet, there have been moments of spontaneous joy along with heartfelt outpourings of love and kindness, the nature of which can only be born out of tribulation. Coinciding with the heart-rending tragedy that continues to permeate this region of the world where so much of my past year has been spent, were extraordinary moments of compassion and kindness; spontaneous and heartfelt demonstrations of caring and generosity and overwhelming occasions of camaraderie and sharing.

How then do we weigh these blessings against the magnitude of heartache, loneliness, and sorrow of being separated from family, or can we? I think now, that even though they all must be taken as pieces that create the whole, one cannot be weighed against the other. They are of different genres and should not even be competing on the same field for my emotions. While we have to accept all the challenges that life brings us, they are only things to be endured, things which add contrast and texture to the moments we cherish in life.

As the end of this year approaches, I find myself separated from my wife and family by half a world. While all the reasons that I find myself desert purgatory are just as valid as they ever were, there are days when I just don’t care, days when I just miss my wife and when I yearn for home. During these times, Pam and I will commiserate with each other through our hardships. We will put aside all the noble and honorable reasons for our tribulations and allow ourselves a short time of self-pity because duty and honor aside, being apart from your loved ones through this time of giving and sharing just plain sucks.

Tomorrow though, the world will seem just a little brighter as we wake up one day closer to being together again. Our contributions and sacrifices will mean just a little bit more as this fledgling bastion of freedom progresses that much further through its infancy and we will see if we can find just a little more strength and perseverance from some untapped reserve to help push us through the final stretch. So while it has been both a long year and a long December, with the end of our mission right around the corner, there is reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.


TJ said...

Thank you for sharing, and for the sacrifice you (and your wife) are making.


Beth* A. said...

A good year is one that you come through, emerge from, with the loved ones who truly care and give you their all while you're away still healthy and smiling mistily when you come thru that door at the right time. Seems like a good year...

Agnieszka O. said...

Thank you very much for your service FF!
Merry Christmas to you and your family.

devildog6771 said...

I'm going to really miss your postings when you go home. They are so compelling and heartfelt. I am often in awe of you and thje other milbloggers for your ability to clearly pass on to us at home what it's like for all of you. Thank you. We at home need to hear what you have to say so we can understand what you go through. Also, we need to know so we don't just blindly go to war; but, when necessary will do so and have the fore knowledge of knowing we have the best bunch of guys and gals protecting our country. Thank you is not enough for you and your wife or those other troops and their families. But, it is all I have to offer except for my undying love and respect for you all. So, bearing that in mind, THANK YOU. I love you all and you make me so proud to be an American.

Hilde said...

You men & women serving have the heartfelt gratitude of our family. I thank you for sharing your days with us and wish all of you a safe return home. It's a rare privilidge to see it thru your eyes and your words. Thank you just seems to be too little for what you are all doing, but it comes from our hearts.

Sean from DocintheBox said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, may your New Year be better then the last. Stay safe.