Don’t let the faint smile in this photo fool you. I was holding back some significant tears, which as it turns out, all came spilling out last night as I sat on my couch, clutching the sleeves of my uniform as I feared letting it go. This was my last photo to be taken in uniform.
Friday’s are “civilian days” where we can don jeans. Monday I hand in my uniforms. So yup, this is it. The last day is today.
So in my teary stupor, I called home to talk to the one person who I knew would understand; Dad. I know he stood at this point once, about to give up a portion of his identity in just a few stitches of cotton. So when he got on the phone, he knew what I need to hear. “Kelly, I know exactly how you feel right now. Just try to look at the future. It will get easier.” I know he’s right. I’m confident that when I’m in Vancouver, dealing with the glory of books, I will move on. But right now, it seems very hard to picture.
I’m aware that in the past, I’ve complained about horrendously placed pockets (giving added hip bulk that no woman needs), unflattering colour and other girly gripes about my uniform. But in the military, we are taught to respect those articles of clothing. You keep them clean. You iron them religiously. You polish your boots daily. You make sure your name tag is on straight. You respect the uniform because it is a symbol of pride and honour and teamwork. In a weird way, it becomes a little piece of who you are.
And on a bit more practical side, as I’m sure many of you can appreciate, I love nothing more than a tasty meal. So to say that I get a little excited when it comes to food would be a minor understatement. Inevitably, I will spill something, without fail, at every single meal. What will I do when I can’t just smear it into my CADPAT camouflage design clothing without batting an eye? I’ll have to stock my purse with an endless supply of Tide To Go sticks.
But now, it’s back to reality. I’m having a hard time imagining getting home tonight, taking off my combat boots, followed by the socks immediately at the door, which is part of my routine. I’ll watch T.V. for a few minutes to unwind from the day, then stroll upstairs to my bedroom to change. At that point, I know that before the uniform comes off, I will pause for a moment, proud of the fact that I was given the honour of wearing it and likely having a little teary moment as I reflect on all that this uniform has given me. And come to think of it, all that I’ve given to it.