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My Twenty-Third Birthday: When I got my Army Wakeup Call

June 23, 2016
AUTHOR: Emilie
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Reading Time: 5 minutes

This week, I turned twenty-three! It was actually on Wednesday and you might not have known.

You see, I felt a little upset about my birthday this year. I was living in a new place (Fort Bragg) with few friends (mostly superficial still at this point) and the one person I moved down here to be with- Casey- couldn’t be here. Now obviously I know that the Army didn’t try to keep him away on my birthday (obviously) it was just the luck of the draw that his FTX fell on my birthday.

We’ve been apart for months at a time before. We’ve gone months without talking. The Army has, can, and will continue to take Casey away for work for extended periods of time, especially at times that are inconvenient for me and my life (Murphy’s Law, duh!).

But I was in a new place. I just gave up my life to come be here with Casey! I gave up my friends, being 3 hours from family, my own space, my life before to come down here to be with HIM. And now he couldn’t be here on a day that was so important to ME. I wasn’t angry or upset with him, but I was angry and upset.

Knowing that this FTX was going to be a big deal, though, I tried to suck it up and not show my feelings too much.

I had taken the day off work and Casey didn’t have to go in until later in the day, so we got to sleep in later than usual. When we finally decided to wake up, Casey made me a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon in a warm pita with tabouli.

After breakfast and morning cuddles, we watched an episode of Silicon Valley and just spent some time together. He told me he got me a birthday gift even though we had promised not to get gifts. (Which means I’ve been thinking about a good gift ever since!)

Earlier in the week I had gotten a package from my dear friend Snehal full of book goodies. She sent me The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I recently decided I would be doing a third quarter spending ban in certain categories and books is one of those categories, but I love love love that I’m getting books as presents because they’re some of my favorite things.

My sister and Fluffy (our dog) sent me chocolate-covered strawberries and chocolate-dipped cheesecakes for my birthday and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After this, I started crying. I cried so much. Like, ugly crying. I knew Casey would be leaving momentarily and I was going to be alone for the rest of the day. But here was my sister who was so far away who still thought so dearly of me that she sent me one of my favorite things in the whole world.

I cried. And I cried. And I cried. And then we ate lunch and I cried some more.

When Casey left, I decided that I’d end up ruining the day myself if I just kept crying and feeling bad for myself. Instead, I texted Katie, one of the first women I met here, and she invited me over. Her husband and Casey went to Ranger School together, and they had been incredibly helpful in helping us figure out where to live here. We just hang out and watched Mickey Mouse with her older son.

But I poured my heart out to her and she said to me exactly what I needed to hear: “You’re not the only one who has felt that way.”

It’s not just me. I’m not the only one who missed my sister and my family and my friends and my previous life when I moved because the Army sent us to a new post. I’m not the only one who has spent a birthday/anniversary/holiday alone without my significant other because of the Army. I knew this, but talking to her I really got it. This is not going to be the last time Casey is gone when I would really prefer he not be but I don’t have to just suck it up because I’m not alone. Katie came thiiiiiis close to having her husband miss the birth of their second baby. Casey is going to have a deployment at some point and be gone for, with my luck, everything.

I might not control his schedule, but I do control my happiness. I’ve decided that I cannot let the Army ruin my happiness. Instead, in those moments of difficulty, I need to cling to the community of other women around me who get it.

The next morning I woke up feeling much better determined to get the most of these next couple of days apart when I got this wonderful package of delicious goodies from Snehal. Gurl, everyone is in cahoots to make me fat. I’m not complaining though. I realized this morning that Casey didn’t even know I got macaroons, so I’m saving a couple for him too. Thanks again Sne!

This morning, when I was reading my new book while wearing my new Apple Watch (Thanks Casey for the best birthday present!!!!), I thought long and hard about how crazy things have been over the course of the last year. I’ve logged more airline miles than any other year prior. I did a year of truly long distance that included long stretches of no communication. I figured out life in a new city only to pickup and move again.

I’ve always been a Type-A planner. But here’s what I’ve realized: Life is an adventure and we don’t get to plan adventures. We just have to make the most of the hand we’re dealt.

… you know the saying:

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan.”

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