We all have funny (and not so funny) (and irritated) (and angry) civilian stories. How many of us have told a civilian friend about an impending deployment and been asked in all seriousness, "Can't he just say no?"
It's happened a lot.
We live in a primarily civilian community right now and it's been a bit of a sad adjustment for me to life off base. I miss many aspects of base life – the safety of my children and their ability to run around and play free range, knowing all my neighbors, and the support I got during deployments.
But yesterday I had a very interesting exchange with my civilian neighbor.
My kids and I were on our way to Holy Thursday mass when our neighbor pulled me aside. I have to admit, I was trying to break away – Daughter #2 was altar serving and we were already running a bit behind thanks to a dog issue (isn't it always a dog issue? Or a kid issue?).
The reason my neighbor pulled me aside was to ask when we planned to attend mass on Easter Sunday. You see, she wanted to use the time we were gone to hide eggs for my children in the front yard.
I was flabbergasted. She went out and bought candy filled eggs for my children? For Easter? For us? Why?
She wanted to do something nice for them. Knowing that Air Force Guy is getting ready to leave for another deployment, she wanted to do something for them – something that would help make a day to remember before Dad leaves.
And I didn't have to ask for anything. She just saw something she could do, and she chose to do it.
We do talk a lot of smack about civilians. Sometimes it does feel like no one understands us, and sometimes it does feel like no one cares.
But other times – other times I'm reminded that there are people out there who care – really care. They just need to know what they can do.
After talking to our neighbor yesterday, the world felt a little less isolated and a little more understanding. And I was reminded that there are indeed people – people who barely know us – who really do care.