Those of you keeping track (AKA me) may realize that I'm in the final week of service with the Forces. On Monday, I'm posted to a holding unit where I will sit, administratively only, until my final release in April. The six months in between are a period given for vocational rehabilitation- trying to teach an old soldier new tricks.
I feel like a manic depressive right now. I'm ebullient, nostalgic, giddy, afraid, excited and morose in turn with little or no transition. I pity those around me; I don't even know what I'm feeling until I walk in the door and whip my beret viciously across the room and make a pointed comment or six. "Oh!" I note with surprise. "I seem to be angry."
Wait a minute. Angry? Why angry?
It's tradition in the military to have a formal luncheon for people who are retiring. There's a whole program detailing the protocol of these events. It's a regular occurrence; it's what you do, plain and simple. I talked this over with DH; I'm not one for crowds but I think I needed and wanted the formality and ceremony to close this huge chapter of my life. I started writing my speech in my head. I wondered when someone would ask me where I preferred the luncheon; these aren't quick events to arrange and time is short.
I went to see my Captain last week for an informal meeting about the release process. He mentioned that there would be a section breakfast next week when they'd say so long to a couple of other people who were moving on to new units.
I froze. My heart froze. In the world of military tradition and protocol, a breakfast (shared, no less) is to acknowledge people who were being posted out, not retiring or releasing. After the gloriously sharp hurt had faded and I could speak, I pointed out to my Captain that I was retiring, not being posted; that this was my career that was being wrapped up and that I was entitled to the full departure program. He got the "deer in the headlights" look, and said he'd get back to me on that.
Five minutes later, it was confirmed; not that I was in any doubt. Here I had just over a week of service remaining, and my chain of command had not even realized I was leaving, never mind planning an event. (Nothing happens quickly in the military- I informed them almost a year ago that this was coming, so it certainly wasn't a surprise.)
A while later, a Sgt was delegated to oversee the event, and the grumbling began about the extra administrative work.
Because of the preparations necessary, my luncheon will likely take place in November; over a month after I have actually left the unit.
I am wounded to the core that my service to Queen and Country should matter so little to them, that they would have quietly swept me under the rug had I not been assertive enough to ask for what's mine. My friends, if there was any doubt that I am doing the right thing by moving on, this incident seals the deal. My sadness has been replaced with anger. Mostly.