He left as a unit of one. No big send off, no banners, no parade. No family members to take pictures of us. No publicity. He just left. We cherished every sweet moment of privacy. Friends could not understand us turning into hermits. What were we thinking? Did we not want the big send off or news coverage? Certainly, those, now traditional, social events would make us feel better and would bring his leaving to reality. No amount of conversation helped them understand; we had everything we needed right there amongst the green and tan sea of items that had taken over our home. We had us.
I grew up in the military. My father was a career Air Force officer, so I've never known a life without uniforms, parental absences or jet noise. For me, a jet flying overhead is not a source of fear (think post-9/11 in DC or New York), but one of overwhelming pride. Our country is far from perfect, but it takes a special person to agree to defend it with your life. And it takes a special person to love someone you know can never put family before country.