Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mistletoe Memories: Military Family


On this day six years ago I truly came to understand the meaning of the Military Family.

Picture this: You are three thousand miles away from your hometown, living in the beautiful British countryside. Your husband is at work, without cell phone. You've met so many nice people in the past three months, and are just starting to feel settled, looking forward to the Christmas build up in a new country.

The morning starts off crisp and fresh, a beautiful walk with your children to school past hopping bunnies and frost-covered holly berries. The world you live in is surreal, beautiful and foreign. Life is pretty good. You take your youngest to a routine doctor appointment, the doctor is unconcerned, runs some routine tests and sends you on your way. Then you drop her, all of five, dressed in her cute little British uniform, off at her kindergarten class. All errands completed, you settle in for a quiet afternoon of solitude, writing and laundry.

The phone rings.

You answer, still unsuspecting, and when the doctor says hello, your stomach falls.

"Mrs. Dunne? You need to go pick up your daughter from school right now. Take her directly to the hospital. Pack an overnight bag. They're waiting for you, there is a bed set up in the pediatrics ward."

Panic, fear, worry...the next hours are a blur. You try to stay strong, act like this is no big deal while you drive blurry eyed to the hospital, watch your baby get an IV while doctors and nurses rotate through, while your daughter gets her first of thousands of insulin shots. When someone finally confirms the diagnosis. When someone finally admits that this is it, there is no cure, there is no doubt.

You can't reach your husband. You try the only people you can think of to help. Your neighbours, your new friends, people you've known for all of three months.

And they embrace your crisis as their own.

Your other children? Picked up from school, fed, cared for. Your husband? Pulled from the rugby pitch by your neighbour and driven to the hospital to be with you. Balloons and books and flowers sent within hours. Phone calls of support. Cooked meals delivered to your home.

Everything is taken care of, without question or fanfare, so that you can concentrate on getting your little girl better.

This is what happened to me six years ago today. And this is, in a nutshell, what it's like to live in a military family. Your family expands. People you've never met become your allies, your friends, your family by chance. You help them and they help you.

Sure it's lonely at times, frustrating to be so far away from your blood family. The closest we will ever live to my parents is a 6 hour drive away. I miss them. I wish they were here and I could just call and ask for help, or pop by and share a cup of coffee.

But your 'military family' are there for you when you need them. Sometimes they are civilian, sometimes they wear uniforms. They're your neighbours, your friends, your coworkers. They speak different languages, come from different backgrounds.

And they've got your back. They would do anything for you in times of crisis.

I love my military family and I am so thankful for them!

How about you? Have you had a special 'military family' or other experience like this? Would love to hear your story! Drop me a comment in the box below.

Brenda

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