Author: Rebecca Hyde
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the crisis in Afghanistan. While I’m not going to bog you down with my political views in light of this situation, I will tell you about my personal perspective on the loss of our service members and how it has affected this retired Navy spouse.
23 years ago, my husband left for Bootcamp. We were both kids, and at the time, it seemed like the world was at peace. Looking back now, I’m sure it wasn’t. However, social media was not as prevalent now, and word traveled a little slower. I was naive to think we would never see war and my husband would never be in danger.
Fast forward to September 11, 2001. My world as a Navy wife was turned upside down. Now we WERE at war, and it was staring me in the face. I was 20 years old with a 2-year-old son. How would I ever be able to handle this? How would I be able to endure helping my husband pack his bags and wave goodbye as he manned the rails of that big gray vessel while sailing off to parts unknown? I certainly didn’t know where he was going, what he was doing, or how long he would be gone. Of course, I knew that deployments were a normal part of the military lifestyle. However, I wasn’t prepared for how badly it would hurt to stand on the shore and wave “c-ya later.” No one prepares you for that.
"I know countless families sat by the phone waiting for a call that might never come."
My husband's entire military career was spent supporting this war on terrorism. Those long periods of separation were a little easier to swallow, knowing that he and his military brothers and sisters in arm were fighting for the greater good. They were a part of something bigger, and since we supported them from the home front, so were we. After many years of service to this country, my husband finally hung up his uniform in the summer of 2020.
Fast forward, once again, to August 27, 2021. I don’t know all the inner workings of what went wrong, but I do know that we lost thirteen service members that day to a senseless act of terrorism. I know that countless families sat by the phone waiting for a call that might never come. These same families watched the door, hearts dropping every time a car went by. Flinching every time, the phone rang. Some of these families got the call from their loved ones telling them everything was okay. That they weren’t one of the thirteen. However, thirteen families did watch that van pull up. They watched with tears in their eyes as military officers got out and somberly walked to their doorsteps to give them the news that they didn’t want to deliver, and the families didn’t want to hear. Their words would fall on deaf ears as the families tried to grasp what was happening.
"They watched with tears in their eyes as military officers got out and somberly walked to their doorsteps to give them the news..."
I’m heartbroken, mad, relieved…. and guilty. The plethora of emotions I have felt over the past few days has sometimes felt overwhelming. I bounce from one emotion to the other. Heartbroken for my brothers and sisters who are feeling that tremendous loss. I’m mad as hell because it was senseless. Relieved that my husband is retired, and I no longer have to hold my breath when there is a knock on the door. I don’t have to flinch when the phone rings. My sweet husband was sitting across from me when this latest attack happened. Now is where the guilt comes in—guilt for feeling relieved when so many others were suffering. As a retired spouse, I am now on the other side. While I don’t have to worry about long separations and sleepless nights waiting on a phone call or an email from my loved one, thirteen of my Mil spouses are experiencing an unfathomable loss. What emotions should I feel?
So many emotions and I honestly don’t know how to deal. For now, I will grieve with my fellow military families and try to convince myself that the past 23 years of separation and heartache weren’t for nothing. I tell others that, but I’m not sure I fully believe it myself. Tonight, I will hold my Senior Chief a little longer and be thankful that I no longer have to fear the phone and the doorbell.