Ok, so I didn’t write about this at the time, because I didn’t think it was really my issue. But now that it’s happening yet again, I’m less than pleased, and it’s my issue this time.
Back story: In late 2003 my friend Laurie, who is the best friend a gay man living in Caribou Maine could ask for, had to see her husband Andrew shipped off to Afghanistan because of the issues there. Without getting into the stupidity of war or the fact that it was necessary in both places, it was hard to see Andrew leave. Laurie was bummed, not just for the extra work she’d have to do raising her then barely 2 year old son Owen, but for Andrew as well, who would return to find his baby boy a rather amazing nearly 4 year old. And as for what she felt for Owen, tears and tears and tears. That kid missed his dad so much that every time you point a camera at him, regardless of who is holding it and to this very day, he smiles and yells, “Hi Daddy!!!!” BREAKS. YOUR. HEART!
Andrew did return, safe and sound, and things are going well for the family, and while I’ve moved away, I’m glad I was there for Laurie and Owen during the whole event.
I have to point out, however, that I was just a friend, doing what I think friends should do – be there. Let me repeat that. Friends should be there! There were plenty of people who told Laurie that they would be there for her while Andrew was off serving his country – for the second time in 4 years, while his son was growing in amazing ways without him, as a member of the Maine Guard who, really, should be, um, well. I don’t know. GUARDING MAINE?! Anyway. Those ‘friends’ weren’t there. Laurie mentioned it to me right after Andrew returned home how many of them reappeared, like he’d never been gone, and neither had they. Fuckers.
And I’m not calling them fuckers because I think they got away with something, they didn’t. I just don’t like people who say they are your friend but turn out to be nothing more than bar-flies, without the bars.
So now it’s round 2. For those of you can’t figure out FOAAW, it’s Friend Of An Army Wife. This time, less than two weeks after arriving in the beautiful City of Houston, I get to watch as Richard is sent to Iraq. I get to watch as Janna churns over in her head all the horrible possibilities and maybes that are faced by anyone who sends a loved one overseas. And unlike the naivete that I not only embraced but enjoyed, I know what’s going to happen. I know the sleepless nights that are coming when a phone call is missed. I know the dread that comes from any phone call from an unknown number. I know the angst and horror of just not knowing, but reading the news and hearing the worst, and thinking “and he’s there.”
I cannot serve my country, as I am gay. My country won’t let me. I’m very proud to know some of the amazing people who do serve. And I would give anything to not have to ask anyone else to serve so that my friends wouldn’t have to go through this.
To make matters worse, the military’s inability to figure out how to schedule itself has turned their last week together into their last night together, with them both hoping for another tonight. I hope they get two or three, honestly, but we all know that won’t happen. So Richard is off to the Middle East, and Janna is here in Houston, me at her side. Hopefully, it’s just to stand here and wait with her as Richard is returned safely to her at the end of his tour. Please, please please let that be the case.
I can’t really remember what it is like to lose someone that close, as death had taken most of my family when I was young, and the rest of my family and most of my friends are so onery we won’t ever die. I know a bit from another friend who lost her lover-and-soon-to-be-fiancée, and I can honestly say that scared me immensely. I know what it is to be a friend, and to be the FOAAW and I won’t ever let my friends down. I just don’t want to be needed, as much as I know I will always be there.