Pretty much all of Navy life is uncertainty. You know things will happen, but you don’t know when. X, Y, and Z scenario could take place, but you don’t know which and it’s not uncommon for D scenario to come swooping in out of nowhere and take over at the last second.
But one thing is certain. There is ONE absolute. You are ALWAYS missing someone. It might be your husband during a deployment. It might be your family. Always your heart is stretched out wishing it could be miles and miles away to be with someone that you love–usually several people that you love.
Tonight one of my closest friends here sold her house while I played kickball with her kids outside. I knew that she and her family would be leaving this summer, but in my mind that was still way off. My mind had it all planned perfectly that they would leave at the end of the summer and we’d have all this time for play dates and long chats scheduled around her house showings.
But instead they leave in three weeks.
That’s hard. Really hard.
It took me a LOONG time to start to feel comfortable up here–like I had a network of people to be with and depend on. My amazing friend Jamie (who will be moving at the end of the year too), has been there from the start, but there was still lots of loneliness.
A year ago our friends M&K who I mentioned in my previous post left the Navy and returned home. About that time I really started getting to know this wonderful woman from church. She was the one I approached about working with me to start a Mom’s group. Our kids have come to play together like brothers and sisters (and this is another part of the pain–knowing that my girls are going to have to experience another painful goodbye themselves). She offered to take my kids weekly when she found out about my PPD so that I could go do counseling. She brought me meals when the kids and I were sick and Husband was gone and I didn’t think I could go on another day.
Tonight, I sat and looked at her wedding photos for the first time. I heard stories of her courtship with her husband that I’d never heard before. We talked over the difficulties of marriage with Navy life thrown in, struggles with our kids… tons of things. But we both got the sense, I think, that we were only just starting to get to know the ins and outs of one another’s lives. And now she’s leaving. It doesn’t seem fair. Or at least, it just seems really, really hard.
We’ll still be friends. Our friendship will still grow. But the quality of that friendship will change. It will have to.
Regardless, I am so thankful to have had my friend in my life. I really needed her this year. The flip-side of the frequent goodbyes that you must say to people is that you welcome new people into your life as well–people that you’d never meet outside of a lifestyle like this. In the absense of your own family you become one another’s family. I can be nothing but thankful that my friend and her family have been in my life. And that is what makes it so hard to say goodbye.
The goodbyes and the missing never stop with the military. And sometimes that’s just hard.
So my friend will leave in three weeks. And we’ll keep track of one another with phone calls and emails that will ebb and flow with frequency. Our kids will see pictures of one another and excitedly smile at the prospect of seeing their friend’s face again, even though the next playdate won’t be for years down the road and may never occur again. We’ll still be connected. It will be different, but we’ll still be friends.
And I’ll make room in my heart for another friend. More connections will be sparked. More family will be made. There will be more goodbyes down the road too. But the sharp pain of those goodbyes will be more than balanced out with the joy we’ll find in the friends we encounter.
The missing of people is our constant companion—our one absolute. It’s what makes us know that our lives are so richly blessed with relationship. It’s what makes this lifestyle hard, and what makes this lifestyle rich.
Of course, I’ll remember all of this perspective only intermittently in the next few weeks, I’m sure. The rest of the time, I’ll just be sad to say goodbye to my friend. And it’ll be one more reason to say in that matter of fact, tongue in cheek way: “I hate the Navy.”
*sigh* Sometimes I really do.