Last weekend Nick and I were forced to do the unthinkable: we took Marvin (our toy poodle) to hand him over to my parents for a year.
Yes, while it might not be quite the equivalent of handing Jesus over to Pilate, it still felt like we were betraying him just a bit. We met in Dallas and, as we were driving home, I had ample time to think about our little pooch. Particularly, I reflected on the walks we would often take him on after Nick and I got home from work. During these walks, Marvin would often times get "stuck", so to speak, on a particular scent. To relieve the fixation, we would have to "reset" him, which normally meant we would have to pick Marvin up and walk a few yards until we had past whatever was holding him hostage.
As I thought about this, I contemplated the possibility of Marvin "resetting" at my parents house. Would he remember us? Would he still want to be our dog? Or would he simply need time to move past his old life with us and on to something new. I realize personifying you pet probably seems a little pathetic, but I think my questions highlighted a deeper fear. Marvin will stay a dog, no matter how long we're gone. He's not human and he's just not that complex. People are different.
This line of thinking really got to the heart of my fears about deploying. At the end of the day, how much can change in a year when you are completely cutoff from the rest of the world? I am constantly concerned that I will change so drastically that I will remain cutoff for the rest of my life. Only this time, my fears are heightened because Nick will not be coming with me on this one.
For me, the bond between myself and Nick is not set in stone. We are two separate people, completely capable of going down separate paths unlike, say, my parents or my sisters. No matter how much I change, there will always remain the irrefutable fact that we are related. When is comes to a spouse, that blood connection is not there. Which brings me back to my original question, how much can one person change in a year? For us, this will probably be the test of lifetime. I don't think we will ever be separated for this long again. Many people don't make it through these sorts of test, but I am confident Nick and I will.
I remember when Nick and I had only be dating about a year and were about to go our separate ways after graduation - he to flight school and myself to OBC. We were so sure that we could make it through anything. Four years later, with hindsight on my side, I realize that even the best loves falter; however, I think when we make it through this, our relationship will only be that much more solid - perhaps incapable of ever being reset again no matter what stops us in our tracks. And that, my friends, is change you can believe in.