Operation Enduring Freedom

Operation Enduring Freedom

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

Operation Enduring Freedom

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle, the other as if everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

E-mail has changed the military wife’s daily operations during deployments. In World War II, most had to rely on what we now refer to as snail mail, which could take months each way. Now, we have this glorious and almost instant communication to keep us together. During his last deployment to Pakistan, my husband and I kept in touch this way every few days. I would tell him about his then eight-month-old son and all that was new or funny or sad with him. He would tell me what he could about life in the Middle East, which was next to nothing.

During one tough week, I had our baby at the doctor’s office five or six times. Upon reading this, Daniel asked me how he could ever repay me. This was my response:

“Well, you can never repay me. You will never get back these days that your son grew without you watching. You can never go back and hug me when I was feeling my loneliest or most frustrated, no matter how many millions of hugs you are planning for me upon your return. You will never know what the eighth, ninth and tenth months of your first child’s development were like. You can’t ever witness those firsts: the first time he kissed, the first time he climbed, the first time he chewed food. . . .

“You can never repay me, just as I can never repay you. No matter how many times I say thank you, it won’t be enough for the endless days of endless heat. No matter how many flags I fly or prayers I say or votes I cast, it won’t be enough to make up for the freedoms and liberties you sacrificed for mine. No matter how many nights I stay up with our son, it won’t rival the numbers of night skies you soar, keeping watch over a distant land that poses a threat to your homeland.

“Yes, it is hard to be without you. If you were a businessman on a trip, it would be hard to be without you. Yes, I worry about you, and I worry about us without you. No, it isn’t easy to be the ones left behind. In fact, I was feeling a little bad about it today, after a particularly bad night with Zaden and his impending teeth, when I received an e-mail with a picture of soldiers (the lucky ones) sleeping. Sleeping, they were, on the sand, in full gear, with masks over their faces because of the dust.

“All of a sudden, I was ashamed at my ungratefulness, and so thankful for my bed and pillow, and the blanket of security that they were affording me by giving up their own. I get a bed, a house and a sand-free life. I get to kiss our baby, get to feel his soft skin on my lips. I get to hug him and hold him and rock him. I get to sit at complete peace while he lies in my arms and contentedly sucks on a bottle. I get to smell him every day. I get to listen to him babble and to laugh. I get to be with him.

“You get to sleep on a cot, if it’s not too hot or too noisy. You get to carry a radio and be on alert. You get to watch your friends die in a helicopter crash. You get to attend their memorials. You get to open America in a small box that was mailed weeks ago. You get three months of trying, harsh conditions, the full extent of which I will never understand.

“If I ever complain about my situation, it will happen in a moment of weakness and selfishness, and I will be wrong to do it. The truth is that I am very proud of you. I am proud of who you are and what you chose to do for a living. I am in awe of your selflessness. I am in your debt forever, and I know it.

“I love you to the ends of the earth, and I just hope that’s enough to encompass your current twenty.”

Heidi Boortz

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