Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Then What Should I Say?

I found this blog entry on Firefighter Nation because I was doing some research for an assignment I have on becoming a firefighter. The entry deals with questions one should not ask the wife/girlfriend/spouse of a firefighter, police officer or soldier serving the in military.

I understand where the writer is coming from. I get how people sometimes ask insensitive questions and make some really stupid comments ("Don't you miss the sex?' or "This shouldn't be so bad once you get used to it.") and I also get I was slumming on a website that has a specific audience so the venting that goes on can be in house where everyone who reads it understands. But I do wonder:

What are we to say?

I have to believe the vast majority of us don't wish to be either insensitive or stupid. We feel we must say something and in the light of not being able to relate one scintilla to what your life is like though I feel the anxiety when I place myself or my husband in that spot if only in my mind, I want to say something useful - if not to calm you then to calm myself.

I don't know what that is.

Besides, I don't think everything on the list of what not to ask is insensitive or stupid. Rebecca takes offense because someone says they don't know how the wives manage it. I think that's perfectly valid. I don't know how they do it - I know they have to do it - I don't know how they have to do it. I do think they are a special breed of women (and men) who have had to learn to adapt and change all in one motion and that's hard under the best of circumstances.

My husband used to fix copy machines and that meant driving a good deal of the day. There were several technicians who were killed in car accidents. I had a fear of his driving and becoming a victim of his job. This is nothing compared to having a mate who is on foreign soil, may not know the language, is being shot at and may encounter explosives with every turn of the wheel.

I don't know how you do it. I think you're remarkable. Perhaps if my husband was still in the military (he served in Viet Nam) I would be able to summon up whatever I needed in order to be remarkable, too. But I don't have to do that - I don't even have to think about it. So I appreciate your strength. I appreciate the support you give. I appreciate the depth of love you have to keep it as together as you're able in order for your spouse to do their job.

Someone teach me what to say because no matter how this election turns out - we're going to need to say something for quite some time.

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