Any woman who has had a man deploy with the military knows that there are some really crazy conversations you have to have such as where he wants to be buried. This, strangely was a long-running conversation for us. We really talked about it more than almost anything else. And it was so strangely matter-of-fact too. Especially considering what a tired, rundown wreck I was in the final weeks before he deployed. At that point I had only spent weeks with him for many months before he deployed.
Strangely, I never thought, well where he's buried is where I will also be buried. That never crossed my mind once. How weird is that? Instead my thoughts were totally focused on where I would potentially be visiting his grave and how I wanted him to feel about his potential final resting place.
We talked about him possibly being buried at Arlington since his mom and stepdad are buried there. There was something comforting about imagining him buried there with them. That they were somehow there watching over him. I know that sounds crazy but that's how my mind works. But it felt so far away. I had never even been to Virginia until last year when I visited him on a training he was doing. It definitely isn't somewhere I would be regularly and could visit often.
The other place he mentioned was San Diego, since that is where he's spent the majority of his adult life and is closer to us here where we currently live. We debated the pros and cons for a while letting the conversation spread over a few weeks time. I emailed a friend of mine who was not military but had lost her husband suddenly a couple of years earlier.
My email started out with, "This is a really awkward question and if you're not comfortable talking about it, just say the word. But can we talk about choosing a burial ground for your husband. We have to decide that before Mr. Hart deploys." She lives on the East Coast and buried her husband in the West where most of her family was buried. I wondered about how she made her decision and how she felt about it looking back.
We talked. She was more than willing to advise, even though I felt a twinge of guilt that her husband was dead and mine was still alive and the odds were that I would probably not be burying my husband soon, but rather that he would come home in one piece from deployment as most do.
She gave good advice and her advice had me leaning strongly to San Diego, because it was our military home and close to us. Other than his buried parents, we have no family on the East Coast. We are people of the West, so it made sense to make that decision. Looking back I am more surprised than ever about how matter-of-factly Mr. Hart and I had this whole conversation and made these decisions. I honestly think it is because we were so tired and rundown that we just didn't have any space for a lot of emotion about things towards the end of pre-deployment. Like the last couple of miles of a marathon we just had our heads down taking every required step, one after another until the finish line of pre-deployment came.
In the end Mr. Hart and I talked and we both felt good about Point Loma and so we made that decision. Strangely it gave me some comfort in a crazy way to know what I would do if anything happened to him. There was a task to organize, something I could act on if our worst fears came true. It was the answer to one of those questions you are bombarded with when someone dies, It is also one of those tasks you can give to all the people circling you asking you what you want them to do in your worst moment. Our decision still gives me comfort somehow. Which I just find so weird. Even writing about it now I do not feel freaked out, I feel peace. That is the feeling I always depend on to help me know if I/we have made the right decision.
I think this is just one of the thousands of crazy little things that go on in military families that civilians never know about. You never see this conversation in the movies. But when it comes to dotting Is and crossing Ts, it's on the list of conversations to have and decisions to make before you send your loved one to a war zone.