Home today is a far cry from the idyllic panoramic ocean view or (those like me from what you’d refer to as the interior), panoramic view of greenery. This is what most of us Commonwealth spouses, specifically Fiji have had to give up to come join our serving spouses. The most asked question by people I meet for the first time is usually, why the hell are you here? Initially as a naïve newly married woman, I would laugh it off and say why not? I would think there are so many opportunities here that my island home simply cannot match up to and that surely they must be the ones out of their mind for wanting to go live on my island home. But... lately I’ve come to realise that there are things that the life in the UK will just never be able to measure up to and that was a reality check for me.
Life lessons be it by way of personal, academic or professional experience have provided clarity on how I took these things for granted as a young teen and a young adult living back home. One experience that I feel my naivety and ignorance of my earlier decade of life didn’t value as much as I do now is family ties and memorable moments that I don’t get to participate in because of the choice I made to come across here to join my husband. At the time I made the choice, the idea of living far away from home seemed more of an adventure rather than a life changing decision. How then does one marry the idea of home being where the heart is or all that jazz, when the very core definition of what home is in the culture you grew up in, is that, home is where family (both your extended and immediate) is?
As a military spouse, you will get well-meaning friends, co-workers, even family members saying, well that is the life you signed up for AND yes we get it. It is a personal choice we made knowing full well that our serving spouse will most likely miss the birthdays; anniversaries; first day of school moments or in my case all of the above and the birth of our child thrown into the mix also. We get it, it’s all part of the package and we get on with it because life doesn’t wait around for us to dwell in our mire of self-pity, life carries on and so we must to.
So yes I titled this post as “The Unsung Hero” as a way of paying homage to the spouse/partner holding down the fort whilst your serving soldier serves Queen and country. The unsung hero soldiering on, carrying the bergen of life’s decision that needs to be made in the involuntary absence of a serving spouse; the unsung hero reassuring the young child that the parent who is thousands of miles away will come home safely at the end of the tour; the unsung hero who has to put aside their career aspirations in order to support their serving spouse in their career; the unsung hero whose life can only begin once the nest is empty because at the end of the day one parent has to be home for the everyday mundane tasks. But despite it all, we keep calm (when we can) and do all of the above because one thing the military community has taught me is that, the family that we so achingly miss day in and day out, to offer that much needed helping hand when the need arises, the family nestled so far away in the idyllic, sapphire South Pacific Ocean has been given to us in another form – our serving spouse/partner, our children, our friends who inadvertently step in and fill the gap and become family and last but not least, a once foreign land that has now become home.
Much love from the North,