Photo: Dmitri and Lily, July 4, 2010
When you live on a military base, you understand that there are certainties: Reveille at precisely the same time every morning; a commissary that will be closed on the day you run out of diapers; and neighbors–strangers– who will never know your last name but who wouldn’t hesitate to offer help if you ever needed it.
We are all, in many ways, isolated here; the constant in-and-out of moving trucks makes it difficult to build lasting relationships, and the knowledge that none of us will be in one place for very long makes it easy to choose not to try. But there is an ever-present and unspoken understanding that is comforting and authentic even though it might not exist under different circumstances (and even though I’ve resisted it for so long): for better or worse, we are in this together.
But the tragic and untimely death of a sailor in our neighborhood last week has challenged everything I’d begun to feel so certain about. I do not know the details, and they are none of my business, but I can’t help but feel a general and overwhelming sadness for all of the casualties–physical, emotional, spiritual– of these conflicts that always seem so far away.
We have so many questions, but mostly we wonder why– and because there are no answers, we do what feels right instead: we send light and love to those who are suffering; we break bread (and drink beer! :)) with our neighbors; we learn to compartmentalize the too-big thoughts that would make it impossible to move forward. And we try to be consciously, constantly grateful for all of the certainties– even the little ones– that remind us that we’re not so far away from each other, after all.