I read this poem yesterday morning and it really struck me; so much so that hours later I combed through what felt like a million Facebook posts to find it again. I’ve long been thinking about writing about my military spouse friends. They are special to me and I wasn’t able to put my finger on what is different about a military friendship until I saw one of my favorite writers ask whom she should interview on a podcast about girlfriends. I read through many responses to her question to see which celebrity her followers wanted to hear from. The answers were many and varied, but one struck me…
A woman named Shannon, wrote:
“Not so much a specific person, but a community – Military Wives. We have to fast track our girlfriendhood because we just don’t have the time to slowly get to know each other. I have asked women to be my child’s emergency contact after 1 day of knowing them. We don’t bat an eye at being asked to be in each other’s birthing rooms. Then we move, rarely talk for 3 years, then get stationed with each other again, and pick it right back up. It’s a strange and wonderful ‘hood to be a part of!”
It struck me because it’s true. All of it. I am a new friend’s emergency contact person. I volunteered to be in another new friend’s birthing room in case her husband’s deployment was extended one more time. I currently have the key to a different new friend’s house, because my boys and I are taking care of her cats while she is out of town and her husband is deployed.
On the flip side, I have new friends whose doors are always open to me; I rarely knock when I come over and I fill up my own water cup at their fridge. These friends have kept my children for me to go to doctor’s appointments solo, attend a couples’ retreat, and celebrate the holidays while dad is away. I emphasize the word celebrate because my MilSpouse friends are the best at making lemonade out of lemons-Dad’s gone for New Year’s-no problem-we’ll throw a party complete with countdown balloons, party favors, and homemade donuts.
And the moving, losing touch, then picking up again as if no time has passed, also true. My second night in San Diego, I went to an “old” (Old as in, our husband’s were stationed together for about a year, 5 years ago, and we went to a several command events together before they headed west.) friend’s house, to do laundry after 2 weeks on the road from the East Coast to the West Coast. My “old” friend and I picked up where we left off-sharing our love for all things Southern over dinner and lemonade at Chick-fil-a. Oh and that whole, “I’ll let you come do 8 loads of laundry at my house, during the California drought, thing! I also used her address as a drop off point for items ordered for our new home, long before we had an address.
Truly, I think Shannon hit the nail on the head when she led with the word community. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until it was back. I spent 4 years outside the realm of a military community. And I was loved beyond measure by all my civilian friends, yet, there is a bond amongst military spouses that begins to form as soon as some three letter acronym comes rolling off your tongue.
To think that three letters put you on the fast track to friendship is amazing. To realize that these three letters are just the start of a relationship that will involve many three letter and sometimes four letter conversations over coffee, the din of many kids, and a table that shows the wear of many moves is something to be cherished. And I do. I am grateful for the “old” friends, the new friends, and the friends not yet made. Thank you for sharing your lives with me.