So, I've been thinking about this retirement thing. Not in the what-have-I-forgotten-to-put-on-the-list way... but more philosophically. What I've pretty much come up with is this... in some ways it is like preparing for a deployment. No, the fear and worry and anxiety aren't there (at least not in anywhere near the same levels) but the distancing? The whole steeling yourself against what is going to happen thing? Totally happening.
Swiss and I both find ourselves slowly withdrawing and disassociating from all things military. Obviously it isn't because we don't care anymore. And I know it isn't because all that stuff suddenly doesn't matter. I think it is just our way of preparing to live a life where the military isn't front and center every day. You know, kind of like you do with your spouse before they leave (we all do/did that, right?) for battle. You have to get yourself ready for the new future in front of you that doesn't include that person (hopefully, just for the time being). In our case, that person is the Army.
It is certainly easier to do this now that Swiss is on terminal leave... his only duties are to go to the occasional VA appointment or stop by different offices to get his papers stamped. He doesn't have a work schedule anymore, no PT, no forced family fun, nothing. We are just two non-working folks who happen to live in on-post housing. Is it almost like we are slipping, quite easily, into the retired mode where the only thing we need from the military are the PX/BX and Commissary privileges... and the retirement checks.
I know that this is a time that Swiss was VERY ready to have come. He is ready to move on and not be a soldier anymore. He doesn't have that romantic view of what it means to be in the military... this unit and the deployments have worn that away. He sees it for what it is and is ready to do something else. And I know this is helping him through this process, which I am sure can be difficult for many.
As for me? Well, I don't think I've been a part of this whole machine for long enough to develop serious attachments. Yes, this has been our life for the last 3+ years, but I sort of view it (at this point anyway) as a chapter in a much bigger book. At times, yes, it was all consuming. Absolutely. And at times it was the biggest driving force in our lives... dictating places and times and 100% responsible for enormous emotional burdens and fears. But. It was temporary and we got through it. So yes, I too am ready to move on.
But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that this feels a little sad. I know we'll always be a part of this family, but the thing I loved most about being a military family is the sense of community. Being part of something bigger, having a network and an instant, understandable bond with all the members of this community. Yes, that I will miss the most. But hopefully, either via this blog or other social networking venues, I'll be able to keep the mainline flowing to these relationships and this fabulous community. Because, at the end of the day, it is the people that make our military great, and it will be the people that I miss the most.