(Excerpt take from my Journal 9/10/2019, one day prior to Will’s last day in uniform.)
Today was one of those days I will look back on for years to come, knowing that it will mark me forever. As I sat and listened to a series of speakers, all gathered for one purpose, I began to understand a new part of my identity to which I had yet to ascribe words. I heard a phrase used over and over. “Military Caregiver.”
Each time it hit me like a wave and sank in at a deeper level. The words began to resonate in parts of me I’ve unintentionally kept hidden over the last several years.
I’ve had a sneaking suspicion of late that I was disconnecting from life and loved ones, but didn’t know why or how to change that. I realize now it was because I didn’t quite understand this part of me, and didn’t know how to relate it to others. As this new (to me) phrase continued to be spoken from stage, it had sort of chain reaction in my heart.
It was as if the very life I’d been living was suddenly being brought into the light, validated, explained, and even honored. It was moving to say the least.
And it caught me completely off guard. Right there in that seat, with silent tears streaming down my face, I realized there’s a name for what I’ve been doing in varying capacities these last several years – I AM A “MILITARY CAREGIVER.”
Phew. There it is. Now what does that mean?
If you’d asked me a week ago, I might have attempted a good guess, but I would not know how to explain it in the way I do now. I would not have had the words to describe the community of people that function in this capacity, and while all our stories are different, so many of our challenges are the same.
Today was freeing, unifying, and empowering.
I am still processing what it means to have discovered all this. It’s like I walked into a room feeling isolated (as if I was “the only one”), and walked out having learned there is a nationwide “club” to which I already know the secret handshake.
The best part about today is the realization that I don’t have to wade into tomorrow’s unknown waters alone. I caught a glimpse of the community of fellow Military Caregivers that is waiting with open arms to make this transition easier.
It’s true. As of posting this, I am 7 months into this life – changing revelation, and I have found a community of fellow military caregivers that brings me real-life encouragement on my darkest days.
If you are feeling alone in your journey as a caregiver, please contact me and let’s see how we can get you connected. Like I said, there’s a nationwide community and you probably already know the secret handshake, you just need to directions to the clubhouse, my friend.
Fight in the Shade,