The Little Yellow Envelope

The night before my husband deployed, he nonchalantly handed me a little yellow envelope. On that night, we didn’t acknowledge its contents, but I was fully aware of what was stuffed inside. The contents included an updated will, a living will, SGLI paperwork, a Power of Attorney and, though I never checked, I’m sure it also included a letter to me, "just in case."

I didn’t hide the envelope, I left it out so that it could easily be grabbed by me, or anyone else "just in case." The envelope was left in a basket on the wall by my desk, so each time I sat down to work on the computer, I was reminded of the scenario that all spouses fear. But still, the envelope needed to be within easy grasp, so it stayed there, "just in case."

A few weeks after my husband left, I remembered the story of a friend of mine, the mother of a soldier who had to abruptly fly to Germany after her son was injured by a VBIED in Iraq. Some time after her son was injured, she gave some public advice on preparedness "just in case." My passport. My passport was in a different location than the little yellow envelope. So late one night, I retrieved my passport from its usual file and I slipped it in the envelope to nestle with the other papers. That marked the first time I had touched the little yellow envelope since my husband handed it to me.

There would be one more occasion which forced me to handle the little yellow envelope while my husband was away. I needed the new Power of Attorney for a real estate transaction. I hated to touch the envelope, but I reached inside and found what I needed pretty quickly, but not before seeing another document which was official-looking, clearly labeled and folded a perfect tri-fold. I didn’t dig any further after putting my hands on the document that I needed. I didn’t want to.

We are all aware of the dangers that our spouses face, and we have to be practical, organized, ready and prepared for the worst-case scenario. I’m sure that each of us have different things which remind us of the danger, and which trigger emotions that aren’t always easy to deal with. Mine was that little yellow envelope. Although I had a clear understanding of everything that was stated on the pages of those legal documents, I didn’t like the envelope that contained all of the directives. Actually, I hated it. It was toxic. It had "beware" and "danger" written all over it. It could have been a file, or a box or anything else, and my revulsion would have been the same. But, as it happened, it was a little yellow envelope.

Funny, when my husband came home, I never gave that envelope a second thought. It sat in the basket for weeks and I was oblivious. The little yellow envelope could no longer affect me. Thankfully, I never needed it.

A few weeks ago, I nonchalantly handed the envelope back to my husband. We didn’t acknowledge its contents. It felt good.

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • Joan D’Arc

    Very moving story, Andi. I had a file folder with all of that info at hand, “just in case.” Then when hubby was wounded I had to start another folder for my kids with BOTH of our wills, POAs, birth certificates, medical POAs for my family who was taking care of my kids, etc. while I was with hubby at Walter Reed. VERY scary! Having all those documents for my hubby while he was depoyed was stressful enough. But having to put together another file for my kids was another story. “Just in case” is good to prepare for…

  • dizzylizzie

    we put our docs in the safe, that way i dont have to look at them. and as a bonus, if there’s a fire, they’ll be unharmed. but yeah i hate those things too. whats even worse is pulling out the old expired ones and replacing them with the new ones for yet another deployment.

  • MaintToad1

    Yep, ditto on the files for both of us, in the little portable fire proof safe. And ditto on having to “remember” to remove and replace as data changed. It was so rote, until the first phone call that said “you leave in 11 days.” Then you wonder — did I put everything in its place??? We actually created a checklist to account for everything in each of our “deployment folders.” Thanks Andi — your perspective is remarkable… Toad1