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Gold Star Families: We are the Best Versions of the Worst-Case Scenarios

By Emily Munoz / taps.org: I think on some level we all want to live the dream. Maybe this means we have the job we always wanted or we’ve given birth to children pretty enough to be on “Toddlers and Tiaras” and smart enough to be in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Living the dream could be about freedom or security, it could mean a life in the spotlight or nights on back-country trails. Maybe it’s about waking up to certain people, or maybe it’s about waking up every day in our version of the Barbie Dream House. We learn early which dreams probably are not going to happen (having a pet unicorn), which ones require lots of work (earning scholarships or excelling in athletics) and which ones can, if tempered a little bit, shape the way we prioritize our lives.

I’ve been a nightmare at multiple points in my life. I’m pretty sure my younger brother can vouch for that. So, frankly, can Sallie Mae (I’m sorry, but I just couldn't handle those coupon books), my tax preparer (I love you, Amy!) and anyone with whom I’ve ever shared a hotel room.

I was still working to ground some of my dreams in perseverance, reality, the limits of science and the hard truth that I wasn't going to Hogwarts, when my life changed overnight.

It’s hard not to sound overly dramatic, so let me be clear. I’m blessed beyond anything I deserve; more than a fair share of beauty has come my way. In many ways, I do have a dream life. But in the military community, when you become a survivor — when the knock comes to your door — you become the worst-case scenario.

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