Dress Blues in our Daughter’s Closet

To our beloved Corps:

I write this not only on your 241st birthday but also on the eve of Veteran’s Day which also happens to be our 3rd wedding anniversary.  Many things have changed in my Marine’s life since he separated from the USMC and yet the behaviors and sense of self he exhibits is undoubtedly built on you…and I’m still thanking you for it.

I hope you remember my letter I wrote to you last year.  It all remains true but I have an addendum for this year.

It’s become clearer to me the ways  you’ve shaped him that are less apparent.  Don’t misunderstand – he still swerves when the vehicle approaches anything larger than a leaf because it “could be an IED” and he asked our obstetrician if he could cut our daughter’s umbilical cord with a Ka-Bar.  I think we know each other well enough for you to know that I shit you not.

But there are mechanisms in my husband’s personality and grooves in his personality that exist in part because of you.  You placed something in him from which things grew that I see every day.  It’s not only because of you and it maybe never would have grown if it were just him but his marriage to you when he was 18 years old fused a secondary spine in him.

He has this almost irritating desire to set incredibly high goals.  He reads books and listens to seminars detailing success and how to achieve it.  He owns several finance and budgeting texts (puke) and practices simple things every day to make himself feel better prepared.  I say it’s irritating because it is but it’s also remarkably inspiring and admirable.  But irritating.

Working 65+ hours a week and going to school full-time, he somehow finds time to help around the house without being asked, to make me laugh and to play fetch with our happy-go-lucky Labrador/terrorist.  This work-week hustle is never dwarfed by his ability to put his feet up and watch college football on the weekends while telling me that it’s what he and Cardyn are going to do every weekend after she’s born…in their underwear…all day.

These sorts of things come with a side of general dissatisfaction, at times.  He’s constantly frustrated with things that the rest of us have just chalked up to the non-perks of being employed.  Things like other employees being recognized for being asshats, the astronomical and alcoholism-causing cost of health insurance and the goddamned ceiling tiles missing in a building you’ve roped yourself into being inside for the majority of your life.

A smart, driven, downright sexy man too damned good for a world like this.  Ill-prepared to deal with the apathy so often masked as life management and so deserving of everything he wants for himself.  I know between the two of us, a sense of duty will not be something to which our children will be estranged but not without the freckles of magic and wonder so critical to being alive.

USMC, you may not have lent him the skills needed to coach me through contractions, to embrace the pink/unicorn/glitter/tutu-wearing world his daughter will likely want him to be a part of or to turn out the lights when leaving a room (yeah, really fucking us over on that one, FYI).  But, of all things, you helped him develop the ability to give a shit about things that matter to him and the people he loves. He cares so deeply about how he attacks every damned day and is fraught with an optimism that’s nearly impossible to crush…and who would want to?

Because when my Marine accomplishes the thing he’s been working toward, and he wears just a little bit of that on his face, it’s literally just the best thing in my world.  And believe me you: he will accomplish all of the things he wants.  And even though I know that’s not all because of you, USMC, it damned well didn’t get squashed down during his service.  As I stated before, you left him a changed man but the Corps was also very lucky to have had him.

So cheers to all the Devil Dogs who don’t just exist as Marines while they’re serving but to all of the ones who continue to harness the values the Corps instilled and use them as the mortar in their character.

Happy 241st birthday, you baddest of the bad, best there ever was and best there ever will be.  Semper fidelis.


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