What Whe Wore: Blue jeans (complete with elastic panel); white, LSU t-shirt; purple LSU sweat shirt; purple and grey slip-on tennis shoes.
This week some old friends were passing through the area, and the Hub and I got to visit with them on Tuesday night and Friday night. Old friends are wonderful. . . they knew you when, and you can pick up like nothing left off.
The Hub and Mark go way back. They were in the same ROTC class in college. They spent five years jockeying between the number one and number two spots in their class. They took the lead roles in their ROTC class, made the grades, and aced their physical fitness tests–all this to earn a coveted pilot slot.
In the Spring of 2001 they were both awarded with their dream assignments–my husband was going to a feeder program for fighter pilots, and Mark was awarded a pilot slot where he hoped to pursue a career as a C-130 pilot. A year later, Hub and I married, Mark and his wife married, and we prepared for our lives in the Air Force.
The final step before reporting to pilot training is a full-course physical in San Antonio. There it was discovered that my husband had a minor heart defect. While not life-threatening, it immediately disqualified him from pilot training. Five years of hard work down the drain. Our grief was palpable–everything that had seemed so certain was gone. If you can work that hard and still have your dream ripped from you, then what faith could you have in anything? I feared for everything–my husband’s heart, or marriage, and this brand-new life we were embarking upon. What would happen to us? I would put on my best face during the day, but I would lock myself in the bathroom at night and cry.
During this time, Mark and his wife were also in town for the very same physical. Mark passed with flying colors. We met up with them for dinner, and I could tell that our loss had affected them also. There was a grief there–of dreams that had been lost, and of a shared future that would never be. That was almost five years ago, and it was the last time I saw Mark or his wife.
Mark called on Tuesday to announce that he and his wife were in town looking for a house–they’ll be stationed here this coming June. We immediately invited them over to our house for dinner. We spent the evening reliving our "glory days," talking about house-hunting, and sharing stories about what we’d been up to for the last four and a half years.
When they left on Tuesday night I thought wistfully about how well their dreams had gone. Mark is in the top of his class, has tons of flying hours, and had a good assignment in Texas where he never had to deploy. I wasn’t jealous of their life, but that things had gone just the way they expected–there were no bumps in their road.
We met again on Friday night for a dinner out, and more of the same–laughing, sharing, and and story-telling. In the middle of all this merriment, Mark mentioned that his father had passed away in a freak fishing accident in the winter of 2004. The Hub and I had no idea. As Mark relayed how this accident had affected his entire family, I grieved for him and his loss. Losing a family member suddenly and without warning must be so difficult.
On the way home, I realized how I had glamorized Mark’s life. Yes, he had worked hard and achieved his dreams, but his life has not been a breeze. No one’s life is a breeze. For every person you know, they will have their own dose of sadness and disappointment. No one is immune, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.