Sigh. Found out yesterday that yet another friend of ours is being activated for service over in the Middle East. First our buddy Tim was over in Afghanistan a couple of years back, then Rich's stint in Iraq last year, and now our friend Mike found out 5 days ago that he has to leave for training in 10 days, followed by a full year in Afghanistan. He'll be leaving behind his wife Rachel and their three kids.
Rachel is, understandably, not doing so well with this. She's always been a bit tightly wound -- one of those folks who holds it together, but when she's under stress (like when Mike has been travelling a lot for business, for example) you get the sense that she really needs to go in her room and scream into a pillow for minute. Like she's putting on the brave face, but really needs a break. This is going to be a very, very hard year for her.
A few years back, in an effort to connect with a larger community in our area, Christine and I joined a Young Families Dinner Group ministry at our church. The first year was stressful, but turned out to be a great experience because we met Mike & Rachel and Dave & Ginny (the success of that first experience is what led us to tempt fate and try a second run at the group the next year, with fairly disastrous results). As a group we were fairly diverse -- an interesting mixture of midwestern resoluteness and northeastern brass, with political and soical views that span a generous range across the middle -- but the blending of views, attitudes, and styles really worked with us, when we managed to get together, because all of us are genuinely nice people and we genuinely like each other.
We still get together with Dave & Ginny frequently -- they live right in our neighborhood and our kids attend the same school, so it's way easy -- But Mike & Rachel tend to be so damn busy that often months go by where we never hear from them or manage to catch up. We finally caught up with them yesterday and this was the news.
So, next weekend we have a Going Away party to attend. We're taking quite a bit of comfort in that he is going to Afghanistan instead of Iraq, but clearly this is a "lesser of two evils" scenario. Meanwhile, Christine and Ginny are starting to put plans in place to make sure that Rachel is kept close: she has no family at all in this area of the country, and isn't a big fan of the majority of her neighbors, either, so she tends to be a bit of a loner, which is probably why she gets so tense when Mike's away. This is going to be tough on her, and we need to help her through it however we can.
Now Playing: William Orbit, "Pieces in a Modern Style"