By Jade Stone
I absolutely love this time of year! The weather is always so amazing, football is just beginning, and the onslaught of holidays begins with Halloween which means .. it’s chocolate season! The Indian summer is beginning and September rushes in, bringing with it all sorts of mixed emotions.
Ushered in by 9/11, escorted out by my birthday and romanced somewhere in between by the anniversary of my husband’s return from Iraq, this September marks the 4th year that he has been home.
Sadly, we won’t celebrate this anniversary next year as he will be gone again.
At any rate, for us, it’s a time to reflect on our own growth, and to evaluate what has worked and what is not getting any better. Looking back I really can see so many positive changes. I can also see places in our lives which will never be the same. For example, when unstressed, Jay’s ability to make daily decisions is back to normal, as is his ability to be amongst larger groups of people. However the key word is “unstressed”.
What we are noticing more is how hard it is for him to stay on task, or to follow through. His short term memory has shown no improvement whatsoever which means his ability to plan ahead is almost nonexistent. Large events like birthdays or anniversaries sneak up on him to the point that he finds himself flailing helplessly because even though it wasn’t his intention to not “celebrate” different landmark dates, ultimately he finds himself empty handed.
Now, coming from a guy who used to write sweet notes and leave them tucked away for me to find, who would send flowers for no reason at all, and who couldn’t bear to let even the smallest of special occasions go without a remark of sorts, this is hard for him to handle. Certainly it’s sad on the receiving end, but truly disconcerting on his end as well, because he wants to be that person again. But that person just isn’t there.
“That person” before Iraq had nothing more to worry about in life than what clothes to wear, or to figure out what we might do for fun on the weekend and had never laid eyes on the brutalities of war except for on the big screen which is a far cry from the real deal. Nor had “that person” ever truly had to make a snap decision as to whether an individual would live to breathe another breath or not. But the person I know today has done all that and more, making him an entirely different human being.
Again, I can’t express to you how much better things are now, 4 years later. But it’s also hard to imagine that after so much time, things aren’t back to normal. They’re not, and the fact is, they may never be. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I have two choices. I can sit and mourn the loss of the man I married or I can choose the path of tolerance and acceptance.
It does me no good to cry over something that will never come back. I can however, do my best to be understanding when he’s having a bad day, and to help him by teaching time management techniques. Creating short (keyword short), manageable “to do” lists as well as maintaining a large calendar with all upcoming important dates seems to help him keep up with the world that feels to him to be slipping through his grasp. The man I love and married is still in there and I catch glimpses of him when he is relaxed so I know he’s not lost.
He just needs a little extra help holding on and truly, for all he’s done for the country and been through for us, that’s the least I can do. Because to me, he was worth it to marry 7 years ago, and he’s worth it to keep now!
Jade welcomes your comments here as well as any suggestions you may have for her future posts. You may also e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous Military Mama posts, CLICK HERE.