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.