A Little Thing

A Little Thing

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

A Little Thing

We can know the dark and dream it into a new image.

Starhawk

[EDITORS’ NOTE: The following reaction to the news of Canadian casualties in Afghanistan was written for CBC News Online by Jodi Chappel, the wife of a member of the Canadian Forces based in Winnipeg. ]

My name is Jodi. I’m a thirty-two-year-old mother of two—Roman, twelve and Phoenix, seven—and my husband is a navigator on the C–130 Hercules at 435 squadron in Winnipeg. He is currently on standby to be one of the next crews to rotate into Afghanistan. In light of what has happened in the last few days, this scares me to death.

As I walked home from work today past the gates of the base I could see the somber reminders of the events of the last few days. The flag is at half-mast and there is already a sea of white ribbons in support of the families that have lost loved ones.

Last night, I turned on the television to check the weather before I went to bed. According to breaking news reports, four Canadians had been killed and eight others wounded by friendly fire in Afghanistan. I watched with utter disbelief. A lump swelled in my throat. The tears welled up in my eyes and I felt a wave of panic.

As I’m sure every other military family in Canada did as they heard the news, I started going through the list in my mind of all our friends and neighbors who were over there. Thinking oh my God what if it was . . . then the phone started to ring. It was my girlfriend and neighbor asking me if I had heard the news. She asked if I had heard who it was or which company they were from. She sounded frantic. I told her that I didn’t know and suggested that she call the base in case they knew. I tried my hardest to reassure her that it wasn’t her husband, pointing out that if it were she would have heard by now, telling her that he was fine and would soon be calling her to let her know he was all right.

On the couch, I choked back tears and thought about the poor wives and families who would be awoken by a knock on the door. That knock on the door, men in dress uniforms and the military padre on the porch, is the thing that we fear most, and my heart goes out to the families that had to experience that last night.

Military families are taught this might someday happen but I don’t think we are ever quite prepared. We learn to function alone for very long periods of time, adjusting to our loved one’s absences but comforted by the expectation of their return.

Losing four members of a very close-knit community has shaken us all to the core. As a military wife, my heart goes out to families that have lost loved ones, and the families of the ones who are hurt. As a Canadian, a human being and a mother, I pray for an end to war, in every form.

It takes a strong person to love a member of the military because of the things we have to give up. But we gain something much greater: that overwhelming sense of pride that comes with choosing to live in ways that serve our country. The military is a family. We depend and rely on each other, and in an hour of need we share the strength, comfort and understanding that only a family member can understand. We know the hardships of being lonely. We have also waited by the phone once a week to hear a particular voice tell us that they are alright, and that they miss us.

I have a little thing I make my husband do before he goes away for any length of time. I make him sing to me on tape and tell me and the children he loves us. If anything should ever happen to him, we will always have that. Because that’s what I would miss the most. A soft “I love you, Jodi; I love you, Roman, I love you, Phoenix” and him singing “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. In our own way we all make preparations. We just pray that day will never arrive.

Jodi Chappel

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