It was wintertime in Moscow, and the entire Embassy was locked down, and all I knew was that the Marine who pounded on my door had shouted something about a possible terrorist threat, telling me to lock the doors and stay away from the windows. I remember it was around dinner time. There was snow on the ground, but the Marine at my door was only wearing gym shorts under his gear. I locked the doors, and I closed the curtains, but I'll admit I peeked every so often, and through my window I could see armed Marines, moving in formation, armed to the teeth and wearing whatever clothes they'd had on when the alarm was sounded.
I knew my husband was with them. But I had absolutely no idea what was going on.
And so I waited. It didn't occur to me to turn on the television, or call a friend. I just sat and waited. And waited. And waited.
A few hours went by before the phone rang. It was one of Bart's coworkers.
"Bart's okay," he said. "He'll call you later." And he hung up.
Another hour went by. Another call. Another coworker.
"Listen," she said. "Bart is okay. He's fine. He can't come home for awhile, but don't worry." And she hung up.
Don't worry? What else was there to do? So I sat, and I waited, and I worried. Of course I worried. I was hugely pregnant with my first baby, and I rubbed my belly and worried.
He didn't come home until around 2 in the morning. He grabbed some peanut butter, told me briefly what was happening, told me to pack the suitcases and disappeared into the night, leaving me to continue my vigil.
It was a scary, scary night, followed by many sad and scary days after the incident was over. It ended with blood spilled, and cars crashed, and magazines emptied. It ended with us being evacuated from post, not sure if we'd ever be allowed back. It ended with me finally truly understanding what kind of life we were living, when everything can change without a moment's notice, when the people you love are out there, somewhere, doing things you can only imagine, to stop the bad guys from hurting the good guys. It ended with me realizing that my husband could have died, could still, at any time, die, because of the work he does, because he chooses to run into situations from which other people run away.
I don't know what to say about the attack in Libya, about the murders that took place at the consulate. But I do know that those four people died because they were doing their job. They knew the risk, but still they chose to serve their country. Our country.
It's a small community, this foreign service town of ours. There aren't a lot of us, and so of course many of my friends know the victims, and have served with them in the past. Hannah, Matt, Michelle, and the rest of you - thank you for sharing the stories of your colleagues. Because people don't know - and they need to know - that there are heroic people out there, doing what they can to make our country stronger. They don't wear uniforms. They don't do much to advertise their work. You might see only a government bureaucrat, a cog in the wheel. But these people are doing things every day, in ways both big and small, in safe places and dangerous ones, to make our country stronger, and safer, and better.
I have friends in Libya, and I have friends in Egypt. I have friends in Jerusalem and Baghdad and Tunis. In Saudi and Bahrain. In Pakistan and Afghanistan. My friends are serving all over this region, knowing as they do the risks, because their work is important and because they believe the risk is worth the potential cost to them. Their families are with them when possible, because the families also believe this work is important. Sometimes, their families are not with them - the families stay back when it is too dangerous to join - but those families willingly give up birthdays and holidays and weekends and bedtime routines, because they know the work is important. The work is necessary.
There are four families out there who lost loved ones in the attack in Libya. There are many, many more families - Heather's, for example, and Matt's - who are sitting at home in the U.S., watching events unfold in Cairo, knowing that their loved ones are in the center of that particular storm. Jill and Jen and Mary are all back home in the States, single parenting their kids, having sent their husbands to Baghdad and Afghanistan.
Here in Jordan we're in the eye of this hurricane, surrounded as we are by all of these countries. But, you know, we have a pretty decent RSO, and he's keeping an eye on things. So I'm feeling good about Jordan, for now. Things turn on a dime - I learned that all those years ago, on a snowy Moscow night. But for now, I'm feeling okay about where I am, where my family is.
My prayers are with all of those families who lost their loved ones this week, in such a senseless, awful way, simply because their loved ones chose to serve something so much bigger than themselves. They gave their lives, and they gave them for you. Remember that.