So it’s here. The Change.
Well, it’s not here. It’s lurking just beyond our line of sight, without a hint of murky light yet peeking over the horizon. It is said that the darkest hour is just before dawn. That’s where we find ourselves. Our personal landscape is still obscured by the darkness. We don’t know what will be, but we finally know what won’t be. The clock has started ticking again, signaling an end to our limbo, and we strain to detect the first sign of dawn.
I married a military man. It was all he’d ever known, and it was like nothing I’d ever known. Though my husband has been a part of the military life since he was born, I still don’t understand this weird, all-encompassing, often invasive world. Despite my lack of understanding, I’ve lived intimately with it for over five years. I’ve been defined and confined by it. I’ve been changed by it. It has brought me experiences I’d never imagined having, and it has challenged me in ways I never could have foreseen. I’ve risen to some of those challenges, and I’ve curled up and cried, admitting defeat in response to others. But all of that is soon to be a part of my past.
He is leaving the military.
That sentence is but five simple words, but their brevity belies their import, their impact. They have the power to change our world completely. It has taken a lot of time and discussions beyond word count to arrive at those five simple words. I won’t go into detail, as (for the moment) I’m still an officer’s wife. I will behave myself and let him tell his own story in detail, if and to whom he wants to tell it. There has been hope and disappointment. Frustration and resignation. Acceptance and resolve. And, as is always the case when great change approaches, there is new hope, uncertainty, and apprehension.
For me, this means I will once again follow him into a new experience, but it will be a strangeness with which I’m already acquainted. I will start over again in some new place. I will still be far from the land I once called home, in a country other than the one to which I was born. I will likely count him as my only friend, as I count on the other hand the miles and kilometres between me and the rest of the people I love. This time, however, wherever we land, I will already speak the language. And I will be armed what wisdom I’ve managed to gain from four years of life in the Saguenay. It’s strange, but I believe that living through this last chapter, a life that has been too small and often deeply unsatisfying, has given me exactly the tools I need to carve out a life I love in the next chapter.
For him, however, this is not the familiar unfamiliarity that it is for me. It is a personal revolution, a coup d’état of a way of life. He is letting go of everything known and certain, not yet sure of what he will grasp in its stead. He will have to choose his own direction for the first time. He will have to make the decisions that carry us both into the future, the weight of two people now on his shoulders. He will have to look down, see the ground below without the accustomed safety net, and still jump. But…he will be lord of his own teeth for the first time in his adult life. He will be afforded the choices most adults take for granted: whether to shave, how to dress, whether he’s too sick to go to work, and whether or not to see a doctor for that 24-hour bug.
It’s a lot. While I wish I could shoulder some of his burden, I can’t. He has to make the jump. All I can do is what this life has taught me to do. I will jump with him. One, two, three…GO! I will be his biggest fan and cheer him on. I will be his sounding board, an advocate of his or the devil’s, as the occassion demands. I will do my best to land on my feet so I can stand tall beside him. When the world asks a bit too much of him, I will declare it His Day, and I will spoil him and make sure the world stays firmly on the other side of our door.
Most of all, I will try to remind both of us that life only has one speed. It can only come at us one second at a time, with 60 of those seconds to a minute, 60 of those minutes to an hour, and 24 of those hours to a day. We have no magical fast-forward button, but neither does life. It can’t rush us all at once or crowd a week’s worth of trouble into a single day. We are getting what we want, what we need, which is out, though much remains to be done here before we can move forward. The only way out is through. And we will get through, second by second, minute by minute, and day by day, until the future is the now, and our time in the Saguenay is but a memory, a short collection of stories we tell to friends.