On Friday night, I went to a fundraiser for a friend of Hubby Blue's. Well, he's my friend too, but he was Hubby Blue's friend first. I went without Hubby Blue.
So, there are two separate stories here. (This is going to be a long post. You've been warned. :)
Hubby Blue has been friends with...Dave ('ll call him Dave) since HB was in college. They first met while working in the veteran's office there, but they were also both involved in a veteran's organization on campus. Anyway, Dave has been a wonderful friend to HB for several years, they've helped each other work through a lot of the issues involved with coming home from combat, and he was even an usher in our wedding a couple of years ago. Dave has this larger than life personality and a heart of gold. He served two tours in Iraq and came home without any visible wounds, but with the unseen disability of PTSD. Back in June, Dave was in a freak accident that left him in a quadriplegic condition. It was devastating. When it first happened, no one knew what the outcome would be, but doctors gave him a 50/50 chance that he would walk again. Now, if Dave is anything, he is a fighter, and he and his family and his friends firmly believe that he will be in the 50% that will not only walk again but will run. Anyway, Dave has been fighting like hell for the last five months and he's made incredible progress. He's now home from the hospital, but his parents' home needs extensive renovations for it to be livable for him. So, on Friday night, I attended a fundraiser that was trying to raise the money needed to start the remodel.
I was blown away by what I witnessed at this fundraiser. There was an overwhelming buzz of electricity in the room, and I could feel a contagious sense of hopefulness for Dave. People were happy and friendly and you could really just feel how excited people were to be there. Over 500 tickets had been sold for the event, and at one point, the organizers announced they'd already raised over $28,000, just in plain old donations, for Dave. I admit I had wondered with the current state of our economy how well this would actually go, but how inspiring is that? I looked around the room and thought to myself how much I would like to be a part of something like this. So many of us go to work day in and day out, just trudging through one day after another, griping about this or that, bemoaning our current state of affairs, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
I'll admit I feel that way about my own job a lot of days. I work in a very low-income school with a lot of kids who struggle to learn how to read, and as hard as I work, there is always that little thought in the back of my head that wonders if I'm indeed making any difference with them. Even if I can teach them how to read, will they take that skill and run with it? Will they study hard in high school? Apply themselves? Will they go to college? Will they break out of poverty, or will they just fall into the way of life that their parents live? Will they start having babies in high school and live on welfare for the rest of their lives? Will they turn to drugs and alcohol? Will the same teachers I work with now be working with these children's children a few years from now? Big questions.
Anyway. I'm going to jump to Saturday morning, but I promise this will all come full-circle. Stay with me. :)
Saturday morning, I was scrolling through my facebook newsfeed and saw a link from a girl I went to high school with requesting that people visit the Officer Down Memorial Page and send a letter to the Prisoner Review Board asking that parole be denied for the cop killer who took her uncle's life many years ago. This hits close to home for me now, so I printed out the letter. I was at my parents' house, so my brother saw my letter, told me to print out one for him too, and then it snowballed. My mom said she would send a letter, said she would have other people sign one too, and so on. It got me thinking: is there something bigger that I could be a part of?
Attending this fundraiser on Friday night and sending this letter got me wondering if there is something out there that could be more--or perhaps, differently--fulfilling than what I'm doing now. Hubby Blue's schedule as of late, the evening shift, has had me feeling like we are really going in two different directions. We were never seeing each other, anytime we talked it was about housekeeping things, and you can forget about any quality time. I tried staying up late to see him when he got home at 11:00, but I was usually so exhausted I couldn't even comprehend a conversation. He tried getting up early with me but said he couldn't go back to bed and get enough rest. The grand solution I thought I'd found last week was really not so grand. I don't always feel like we are on the same page. I feel like sometimes we're leading two very separate lives that are disconnected from each other, and coming back together once a week to catch up is just not cutting it. I'm not saying that starting a charitable organization or even just getting involved with one is the answer...I don't even know what I could do. I just know that I was touched and inspired by things that happened to me this weekend. I'm not one to go outside the box and take a lot of risks...I am very comfortable with my 8-4 job, where I get a paycheck twice a month without fail, where I answer to a boss rather than be the boss. I'm just saying...I might be feeling a nudge from God to be open to other possibilities. I've actually been feeling a lot of those nudges lately. I think Oprah calls them whispers from life, but whatever... :)
2. Flying Solo
Hubby Blue knew for a long time that he wouldn't be able to attend our friend Dave's fundraiser because of his work schedule. I decided I would go anyway because Dave has been such a good friend and because we really believe in him and want to support him. My parents also went. Thank goodness for that. I only knew a few other people at the event: Dave's parents, who obviously were very busy, and two friends of Hubby Blue's, also from college. Police wives say it all the time: you feel like a married single person. I know this is just the reality of being a police wife, but it hit me hard that I'll attend a lot of functions by myself from now on. It's not so hard going to family things--parties, get-togethers, birthdays, even holidays (I'm just guessing on this actually...we haven't had any holidays since HB started)--because it's family. And my family and Hubby Blue's family are being pretty gosh darn amazing with this whole adjustment. But going to social events solo is a different story. I'm a pretty shy person and a lot of times I feel uncomfortable going into new situations even when Hubby Blue is with me. And as stupid as it is, I feel funny always giving the "Oh, Hubby Blue wanted to be here so badly but he had to work!" speech because I'm used to him being at events like this. I'm used to Monday-Friday jobs where you get your weekends off. I'm painfully aware that most people do not understand what his job or even his schedule are like because I myself did not understand what this job would be like until a few months ago. I catch myself worrying what people might be thinking about the "work excuse" because I know that it's not an excuse at all. It's just the way of life now.
So, it was a good thing my mom and dad were able to come with me. And even though I was not looking forward to going to this fundraiser without HB, I walked away from it feeling really, really glad that I was there. It's probably important for me to remember that even when you really don't want to do something because you have to do it alone, it might turn out to be a really good thing. Again with the little nudges from God.
Hubby Blue worked his last evening shift last night, and I was here (awake...sort of) when he got home. We talked about the fundraiser and I admitted I wished he could have been there. And once again, HB came through for me and with this happy sparkle in his eyes, he told me how much he loves doing his job. He says he's really getting used to being on the streets and that when he lights up the car and hits the siren, he feels this incredible rush of excitement that he's about to go catch a bad guy or stop a crime. I certainly can't argue with that. If it means he's happy and feels a sense of purpose, I guess I can fly solo when I have to. And maybe I'll find a new purpose of my own in the process.