Blue Star Voices: A Reconnect Before the Disconnect
Jacqueline Goodrich's husband viewing Teresita Fernadez's Projection Screen (Black Onyx), at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia. Photo by Jacqueline Goodrich
Today my soldier and I finally made time to do something. I have said for over a year that I wanted to go on a date to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Blue Star Museums program gave us a reason to go. The opportunity couldn’t have had better timing---bright and early Saturday morning he’ll be leaving again. This time it’s only for three weeks, but when you’ve been separated as much as we have you can’t help but think things like "AGAIN? You’re leaving again and we still can’t go with you?!" After spending our first three years of marriage living in different states and countries these “little” occasions are still counted as days apart. I know what some of you may be thinking and what some will say to me on Facebook if I let my feelings about this slip. Yes, I’m very thankful he’s not leaving for a year or going off to war. We’ve done that. And, we’ll be doing it again in the future.
That’s why I dislike these “smaller” or “less important” separations. For us this particular farewell is just the start. These three weeks will be my soldier’s last ones with his National Guard unit before he transfers into a job in the Army that will have him gone more often than he’s home. Over the past year we’ve waited for the Guard to release him early and grown more and more frustrated when they didn’t. Now that the time has come, I want the days to drag. For just a little while I want to be a “normal” couple. During most of our entire marriage so far my husband was either in combat or training troops for combat. Operation Iraqi Freedom is given more thought and consideration in our house than what we should have for dinner each night.
The afternoon of our museum trip, war was far from our minds. Normally we’re Mr. and Mrs. G.I. Joe. He’s a King of Battle, and I’m the girl everyone comes to when their husbands leave because they know I’m an unfortunate expert. But today we were able to just be. As we strolled through the galleries I completely forgot about the pile of uniforms and socks waiting at home to be washed. There was no internal debate going on in my head about whether to send cookies or muffins with my soldier for the unit. All I had to do was hold my love’s hand and try to convince him that nothing beats the works of European Impressionist artists.
After being there a while he started to let go too. I could tell that he had cleared his head when he started a futile argument with me, stating that American art, or American anything for that matter, is the best simply because it’s a product of the Stars and Stripes. Later in the evening, I knew he would be back to thinking about the war, remembering that he has three weeks left to impart all the knowledge and training he can to his unit because once he transfers to Active Duty they’ll be on their way to Afghanistan for a year.
I’m as proud as the next wife. Wherever I go I find ways to tell waiters and bank tellers that I am married to a soldier. If people ask when he’s getting out I say they’ll have to kick him out when he’s old and senile because he loves this country so much. Sometimes though, you have to give yourself a break. Constantly thinking about war, the number of days you’ve spent apart and missed holidays is not healthy. That’s when depression and self-pity set in. Its okay to go out for an afternoon and have your biggest concern be trying to get your husband to feel something when he stares at that black expressionist cube. There will be plenty of time later when you need to convince him his daughter won’t be terribly mad at him for leaving yet again. This afternoon was our day. Instead of sitting in a dark theater we talked. We held hands. And to everyone else at the museum we were nothing more than an ordinary couple in love.
Thank you, Blue Star Museums!
Jacqueline Goodrich is a member of Blue Star Families and became an Army wife when she was 19 years old. Now, after four years of marriage and three years of being separated by duty, she is still thrilled to serve her country with the one she loves. She is the co-founder of Ask the Millies, an advice website for military spouses.