to you, my friend…”
After hearing the sobering, mind-numbing news Thursday evening that the body of the F-16 pilot had been found, I was reminded of the stark reality of what my husband does for a living. I told him with a very heavy heart that,“in this very moment, I hate your job.” I hate the risks, I hate the deployments, the TDYs, the smelly flight suits, the long hours, and most of all I hate that it can rip apart a family in the blink of an eye on any given day with no warning. On days like this, I don’t feel like I am “cut out” for this job, that is beyond my ability. That God gave me more than I could handle, and He trusts me too much.
I’m often told that “I knew what I was signing up for” when I married Alex and thus, the Air Force. Folks, I’m going to be blatant here. Those are words we military spouses never want to hear. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy when we “signed up” but we had and still have no idea what challenges and obstacles each passing day will bring.
Over the past few difficult days, maybe I knew in my heart this is how the situation would turn out, but I wasn’t giving up hope because Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 12:26 NIV. In the words of a good friend, you have to hope until told otherwise. That’s all you can do. Why? Why did it have to be otherwise? Didn’t God hear our prayers? I didn’t know how to handle my emotions, so I got out my Bible and my journal and poured out angry thoughts, sad thoughts, selfish thoughts…I tried to sort it out, though to no avail. I was conflicted. All I could do was cry. What was God thinking? How could He do this to his wife and unborn child, his parents, his family, his friends? I haven’t found that answer yet. All I know is that God is always with us, and I have to accept that He works in mysterious ways. Several years ago, while I was still in college, my very dear friend was struck and killed by lightning. His precious life was taken in the blink of an eye. I still don’t understand why and I don’t know if I ever will. Did God do that? Likewise, I may never understand why God welcomed home a pair of wings much too soon last week.
It was all too close to home for me. I have heard tragic stories of grieving families, friends, and communities. This was the first time it had happened to a community that I was a part of and it was worse than I could ever imagine. I guess you could say I worry about my husband when he goes to work. I can’t deny the risks are there. Of course the thought crossed my mind, as I suppose it did in every other F-16/fighter pilot spouse’s mind, “that could have been my husband.” Yes, it very well could have. Am I selfish for thanking God that it wasn’t? I don’t like to think about it, but the job Luc was doing when he made the ultimate sacrifice is what our husbands do every. single. day.
They lace up their boots, grab their coffee and lunch container, hug and kiss us goodbye, and away they go. God willing, at the end of the day, they come home, hug and kiss us hello, grab a beer, and settle down to decompress after a long day. It isn’t easy for them, and it isn’t easy for us (this is a very loaded statement). “And for that,” I told my husband, “I truly admire you. Thank you for what you do.” I don’t know if I’ve ever said that to my husband. Sure, I’ve supported him, his dreams, and his job in other ways, but I’ve never straight up thanked him for his service.
I would go crazy if I let the worry spill over to my whole existence. I have learned to contain it in its natural boundaries and stop it from affecting everything else I do. It requires some self discipline to compartmentalize my thoughts. It’s always there hovering over me like a dark cloud, and I’m aware of it. I’ve never told anyone this, but it’s the very reason I never say “bye” to my husband on the phone. I tell him “I love you too” when our conversation is over and hang up. I don’t know if he still says “bye” or if he is offended, thinking I’m being rude. I hate the word “bye” because it is so final. I’d much rather end our conversations saying “I love you.” The thought that everything could go wrong in a blink of an eye gets stashed away in one compartment in my brain and I focus on another. The compartment where I trust my husband and his ability to confidently, yet cautiously, operate his jet, where I am reminded that the Air Force has properly trained him and given him the tools and resources he needs to do his job under any circumstance and when I think of the benevolence of the pilots in his squadron, I am consoled that they’ve got each other’s backs, and above all else, I have faith in God and His plan for us. Because this is the reality of it all.
The events of last week wrench our hearts and remind us that reality does not take vacations. I don’t like to dwell on the hazards of my husband’s job, still his job isn’t all fun and games. I sat down today to share a recipe with you, but instead, my heart spilled out bits and pieces of what I reflected upon in my private journal over the past few days. I don’t like to talk about these kind of feelings on my blog. Or with other people, for that matter. I tend to put up a wall and I hide behind it. Writing has always been my way of finding peace of mind. It’s easier for me to write to no one in particular about my gut reactions than to sit down with another person and talk about them. After I wrote this post, I realized that it is important for me to share these thoughts with you. Not shedding light on this would be renouncing the very existence of this blog and make me deceitful about my husband’s career. Writing this post brings closure and now we must move on.
Our F-16 family was hit very hard by the loss of an admirable pilot, husband, father, son, brother, and friend last week. I believe that the family deserves to grieve in private so I don’t want to speak much about them, but I would like to say this: I admire his wife, Cassy’s resounding strength and courage. She is everything I strive to be as an F-16 spouse, a true class act. While my heart is broken for her and their unborn daughter, Serene, who will never meet her father in this world, I hope Cassy finds serenity, comfort, and peace when she holds that sweet baby girl for the first time and forevermore. Their beautiful bundle of joy is a part of Luc for her to cherish. I pray to God that she looks just like her daddy and inherits her parents’ resiliency, passion for life, and audacity.
the world will be a lesser place.”