expecting the unexpected

‘Expect the unexpected’ should be part of the advance information handed out to future military spouses. Just as life was beginning to settle down, one phone call was all it took. Now further separation looms with an unplanned deployment on the horizons. The winter nights in Cyprus will be chillier and the bed will feel too big again.

Yesterday the river of poppies over the altar in church was a poignant reminder as we all reflected on the lives lost in war. Some of the stories were of the horrors and trials from soldiers in the First World War, but the face of a much-loved husband, father and friend who died in Afghanistan a few years ago was etched in the blur of red for me. The cost and sacrifice paid by so many hundreds is vividly portrayed in the river of poppies at the Tower of London.

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A few weeks ago we edged our way round the crammed sides of the moat, gazing at the hundreds of unique flowers gently swaying as rays of sunshine lit up their ceramic petals. With eyes half closed the shimmer really did resemble a river of blood, made up by so many completely unique poppies. Yet each one a life cut short – an individual who never came home to their loved-ones.

Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday are special days in the year, especially when you are married to a soldier. The poppy looks back, but also to the future, because none of us know what lies ahead in the line of duty.

I am usually happy with my own company and as a couple we’ve survived a fair bit of separation, but when the ‘enemy’ is a deadly virus rather than the Taliban, I can’t help harbouring doubts about any military ‘training and preparation’ being a full-proof deterrent.

After the Remembrance parade tomorrow, I will unpin my poppy for another year – but this time I’ll be leaving it out by my mirror as a reminder. A reminder that none of us know what lies ahead and what our lives will hold, but also to remember the sacrifices all those in our military continue to make every day – whether flying over the middle east or working in a hospital in West Africa.