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The Realities of Life

June 26, 2013

I learned real early in my relationship with the Chief that one of my responsibilities would be to have to make the decision whether or not to tell him of the passing of a loved one. At least I got the choice. My MIL had to wait over three months to tell my FIL that her own mother had passed–it just wasn’t information you shared in a 70 word tel-ex. From that long fall day where I waited anxiously by the phone (I wrote a fictionalized account in Bad News Travels Slowly), in our 17+ years I have had to tell him of the passing of 6 of his own family members, 1 of mine, and a handful of close family friends … all over the phone.

This week heaven welcomed home one of the faithful. Probably one of the most genuine and kind and patient men you’d ever meet. He’d baptized more members of my family than not and he performed our wedding ceremony. T1 & T2 were blessed to be able to call him one of their Papas.

I got the word while on a trip with T2’s scout troop. My mother made the phone call. Then texts started coming in from T1 and my MIL. I have an old school, 2nd generation Kindle so if you’re familiar with that you know the “Experimental” web browser is exactly that and still hit-or-miss. I knew the Chief did not have the “cheap” Sat Phone … and as Papa was not a direct family I did not feel it would count as a justifiable call to the ship. I had e-mailed him as soon as he entered hospice so it wouldn’t be a surprise (but we visited days before the Chief shipped out because the Chief “knew”–this was the third time he went to “say good-bye”). I could barely get the Kindle to load recent FB posts, let alone let me launch AOL to e-mail him the news.

We were on our way to a show when I saw the ship’s number on my cell–my cue to call back. Being on hands-free speaker phone I had to ask the girls in the car to be quiet for a few minutes.

“Hi. I got a text from T1 and I wanted to make sure you knew.”

“She texted you? I’m sorry she had to be the one to tell you. My mom called and then I got the same texts. I didn’t think you could get texts and I was going to try to e-mail you tonight.”

“It’s a part of life and it’s a lesson she’ll never forget. I took the phone call about my Grandma Fern because no one was home. I was only 9 and I had to tell my parents.”

T1 was prepared to be a help when the news came–my in-laws will have much to do to help with the arrangements. She took a big step to take it upon herself to let us, her parents, know. It should have been the other way around. It just makes me sad that she is only 13 … I was 21 and about to get married before I had to tell the Chief of a loss over the phone. I signed on for the realities of “This Life” but the girls were born into it. Hopefully this will make the girls realize all the more the sacrifices the Chief makes for us.

I guess just like that long ago Fall day God knew our family needed to communicate … I probably would have been worrying and praying about how to share the news with him once the scouts were asleep and the Kindle frustrated me to no end. I was spared that and got to share a few minutes of mutual solace with the Chief.

My heart is sad but my soul rejoices for I know our friend is in a better place.

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