It’s a Lonely Life

Posted: August 16, 2013 in Uncategorized
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While I have not quite reached the goal line yet in my career, hell, I have not even hit the Redzone yet, I am starting to see the end come near.  As the end grows closer and closer I have been more introspective.  Part of that introspection revolves around all the time I have spent away from my loved ones.

I was not married when I enlisted.  As a matter of fact when I met the tiny enchantress who would become my wife, I had absolutely no desire for a relationship, never mind a long distance one which would turn into a marriage just six months later.  Seventeen years, two kids, too many pets to remember and all those years I left them by themselves in Fayettenam, we are still together but living apart as they settle in our final home waiting for my impending retirement.

I spent the first eight years of my career training and waiting for what soldiers do, go off to war and fight for their country.  The last 11 years it feels like I have been away from them more than I have been with them.  Granted the last year has been by mutual design rather than good old Uncle Sugar’s ever present requirements, but it still just adds to the melancholy of it at times.

The life of a soldier is filled with ever-present surrounding of teammates, many of whom fill the void of family by surrogate.  They become your brothers and sisters.  They are around during some of the most intense times in your life and despite the differences between you, understand the life like only a fellow veteran can.  In many ways they they know you better than your loved ones do.  Many of us, by circumstance or inability cannot make the transition back to the ones we leave behind, no matter how well they support us when we are gone.

I have been fortunate to have a wife who has been able to live our life without me being there.  She has raised our children, kept our home, completed two college degrees, moved across the state and done all those things normal families share equally in each and every day.  Many of those I have served with or been leader to have not had the same benefits that I have.  Through good times and bad they have been there over and over again.  Even today when I get my occasional weekend reprieve with them it is still more about me being there with them and trying to let me enjoy what will be my home than anything else.  In the short time we have had our new home it feels more like one than the empty nest that I spend most of my time in and have done so, when not deployed for close to two decades.  It is warm, inviting, safe and filled with those who love and miss me.

We see many ugly things in our careers. The ugliness is not all death, neither that which we visit upon our enemies, nor that which can befall our closest comrades.  The ugliness can be the policy, the politics, or seeing the inability of leaders who send you into harms way to make something out of the sacrifices.  It is the disappointment of the short memory of the populace you defend to see what the cost for their freedoms has been to us and their inability to do for themselves rather than hold their hands out.  It is seeing my fellow veterans fall to their own demons or take it out on those around them because it is a sign of weakness to do what they need for their own stability.  Yet, in all that ugliness that is out there I have been graced with a force of nature in my family that both draws me to it and constantly reminds me that I would give all I have to insure they can live all their natural days.

I miss the days when we used to write letters.  Email, social networks, text messaging and all those other “conveniences” has removed some of the personal from our lives.  In 12 years of war we have moved from waiting for the resupply to see if we have a letter or package waiting for us to 144 characters of abbreviated language.  We have evolved, much for the better, some for the worse.  In all that change I have felt lonely but never alone.

In my wife and children I have home.  It is a lonely life being a soldier, especially, because in many ways it is our own selfishness that leads us down the road we walk.  We choose to stay in knowing what we sacrifice and leave behind.  We also know at the basest levels of our desires what it is we need when we come back and selfishly seek it out.  It is only in a family that can accept that, whether they understand it or not, that we can define what makes us whole.  I can exist and survive on my own.  I simply have no desire to do so.  I have run every gamut of emotion that comes with a family and would not replace it for the world and would be a much lesser human being for it.

So, while I am occasionally lonely, I am never alone.  I do not think every change in this world is for the better, but I will roll with the punches as they come even after I get to live with my family again, in our home.

Love you guys.



  1. Valerie Austin says:

    Great post, and I love your great family, too:-)!


  2. geriweaver says:

    I never did understand when military families split up voluntarily – until FayetteVile became more like a prison than home. Once again you gave me wings and our children (and I) are better for it. These mountains that had been calling for years now provide comfort, protection, and welcome opportunities for all of us. No doubt our children appreciate the sacrifices we have made as a family and as a couple. When I think about the choices we have made and the challenges we face I only have to remember the words you said to me nearly 9 years ago – ‘if anyone can survive this, we can’. It’s not the distance that has made us stronger, it’s the obstacles we have overcome together. I love you always.


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