|All time fave. Shared it before. Many times. Not sorry.|
I began writing this at the end of this summer; when the sun was still bright and the humidity high enough to make me question whether air was a gas or a liquid and when Sean returned home in enough time to retire from the U.S. Army before the kids and I began a new school year. But I got swept up in the chaos of those moving parts and those moving emotions and I neglected to actually finish and post this. The timeframe is wrong, but the sentiment is accurate. Happy Veteran's Day. My sincere thanks and gratitude to all who have and still serve.
There are momentous things afoot here. Back to school is upon us. Sarah Jessica Barker is in talks for a canine modeling career. Sweet Girl has nearly perfected playing the role of every orphan, as well as the titular orphan, in the movie version of Annie. (Sarah Jessica Barker plays an aloof and somewhat reluctant Sandy, by the way.) Little Man has lost two teeth, caught 4 Pikachus, and perfected the difficult task of playing a video game whilst simultaneously providing play-by-play AND color commentary for his own actions. BIG things happening here, I tell ya.
All that, while exceptional, pales in comparison to the main event though. After half his lifetime with one employer, Sean is retiring. Before any assumption is made from that statement: he is retiring from the Army; he will not be sitting at home; he is available for another job; hire him, please. But this is big. The Army has been the fifth, though often the first, member of our family for as long as our family has existed. It has determined where we lived, how long we lived there, how often we were whole, when/if we could travel to see family or take vacations, how far away the closest Target was...the important things in our lives were often wrapped around the needs and whims of the Army. And our family has benefited from that relationship. The Army has provided well for our us. We have had opportunities to experience different parts of the country, and for Sean, different parts of the world. (In related news, Sean's in the running for President of Peru. Just clear your schedule and ask him about it.) We've met lots of kind, warm, crazy people from all different walks of life. The Army has moved us far and beyond where we started in ways we didn't know it could. It has been challenging and motivating and on Friday, we say goodbye.
This seismic shift in our family is a bit anxiety-inducing and a bit exciting for those of us not most directly impacted. But I know for Sean, it is also more than a little sad. I don't think I'm speaking out of turn when I say that Sean has loved his time in the Army. Not every minute or every job, of course, but he has had way more good moments than bad in his career. He has been able to use his aggressive social skills to meet people he bullied into being friends using his innate optimism, charm, and enthusiastic talking. He has grown as a leader through different positions to end up in a job that suits the earnest and sanguine cornerstones of his personality as he helps develop future Army leaders through ROTC. There's no need to go through all of his roles because, overall, he has had fun and felt he was serving a purpose in almost all of them. Purpose and cheer are great things to find in a career and not everyone is so lucky in that regard.
Now that he's stepping away from that career there are many feelings to be felt. I imagine (wife code for 'I know but am too polite to tell you your own feelings, Dear.') he's feeling proud of the work he's done, happy for the memories made, grateful for the opportunities, sadness in bookmarking this chapter, and perhaps a bit lost about how he is beyond this job and title. Just to name a few. When your career serves as an ersatz family member, leaving that behind can be traumatic and leave you feeling unsure of a great many things. What I know (wife code for 'I've told you this in not so many words so I'll repeat myself.') about Sean is that he is greater than a career. No matter how great that career or how deep its influence, the things that make Sean a good human have very little to do with the uniform he's worn for the last 20 years. He is who he is in BDUs or in a suit (Jersey track suit or otherwise). I am lucky to have been there for this career, but the real prize is that the same strong-spirited, open-hearted, loud person is still here to start something new. This career made him a veteran but no longer wearing that uniform does not wash away what is inveterate about him. That's why I know he'll be fine. Because he will find a way to be fine. As a matter of fact, he'll probably find a way to be good...even pretty great. There's no uniform required for that.