My husband’s in the Army, deployed a billion miles away. Deployments are not easy for anyone, to be sure.
About halfway through my husband’s last deployment, my dentist told me of the stuffed animal her daughter gave her husband on his deployment, and how he took photos with it everywhere. It reminded me of those Flat Stanley paper dolls kids send to family & friends to take with them on their travels. I liked that. So I made my husband a Flat Myla.
To his credit, my sweetheart took her everywhere in his cargo pocket. He took her for pizza and for dinner at the chow hall.
He took her for coffee at Green Beans, to work with him, and out for pie. She used to laugh at the photos…they cracked her up.
He even took her flying, on bus rides, and showed her his tents and some of the sweeter sides of Afghanistan.
This deployment, I thought he needed another updated one…so I just now sent him a new Flat Myla (she designed her own Pokemon shirt).
The older one sits now, retired, in a glass frame on our fireplace, worn from the wear and tear. This new one is triple laminated, which (hopefully) will help her last a little longer. He says he’s looking forward to getting her in the mail, because it’ll give him an excuse to get out and visit places and take pictures with her. That makes me smile.
He’s gone for awhile. Through Christmas and through the holidays. Through our 14th anniversary, through our birthdays. We’ve done it before–it’s a bit hard, but it’s okay. We used to joke that he ASKED for a deployment when Myla was a year old specifically to miss her “Terrible Twos” (which were TERRIBLE, by the way, in Alaska with 8 months of dark winter, 24 hour summer, and then her 2-year molars)!
Now, Myla is older, and she’s always such a sweetheart to handle. I can’t wait to put all her Flat Myla pictures in a book to show her how much her dad was thinking of her while he was gone. It’s special, for sure. Myla’s a good army kid–she takes things as they are. She focuses on the moment, because she’s six. But from time to time, she’ll miss something that Dad does, and get a little bummed. But she always thinks of him when she draws pictures or talks about our family. She really is a pretty great kid.
And then I was thinking–the world has a way of telling me to keep my chin up and not focus on my own little world. Today I went to the post office, and just in that short time, feeling a little blue myself, I stood next to an older man struggling to write an address label because his hands were shaky. I helped him write it out, and he told me how much harder little things like that have gotten now that he’s gotten older. I heard a woman say her daughter was in the Middle East for the first time ever, and she hadn’t filled out a customs form before. A woman who lost her phone (and then found it) said, “my husband just passed away and all my recent photos are on it.” People are going through things, all around you.
So no time to feel sad or mopey. Everyone has issues. Everyone’s going through their own things. You can let it swallow you up, or you can focus on the good things.
So it’s time to focus on what we do have. We have each other, even if a million miles away. You can share kindness with a stranger, just with a smile, or by holding a door open. My favorite part about the holidays is how for a moment, it seems that sometimes people turn up the charm a bit, turn up the kindness, and it spreads a little. It’s a great thing to see. But we can do that all the time!
Have you ever read the “Pout-Pout Fish“? How he “spreads his dreary-wearies all over the place”? Well, it works the other way, too. This past week, Myla and I brought the crossguards at school hot chocolate in the morning–Just two cups of SwissMiss, and they were so grateful that it lasted the whole day–one even made a point to give Myla a hug later in the day and tell her how good it made her feel. That stuff SPREADS, you guys. Even the kid knows that.
The bad things ALWAYS shout louder than the good. The good is harder to find, but you can if you look, and if you focus just on that. It doesn’t always happen right away–it’s an active effort. You have to spread it around to balance it out, and then it spreads to others. They don’t even have to know it was you. A smile. A piece of trash thrown away. A held-open door. A little something to make someone’s day better.
A little kindness. A little understanding. A little COMPASSION. Regardless of your beliefs, of your politics. All year round, every day.
As for the husband, I hope he gets to take lots of fun trips with the new Flat Myla, and take her on cool adventures, and spread a few little smiles around, from across the globe!
(We love & miss you , Babe!)