The painful Goodbye that all Military children go though and staying strong for another day.
When you’re a kid an hour-long drive to visit your grandparents seems like forever. Visiting family in a different state over a long weekend, well that’s just a lifetime.
A long boring drive staring out the car window and imagining what obstacles you’d jump over if you were riding your bike along side the car.
Or maybe you read six books because motion sickness didn’t bother you. Either way the world was big and the drive was endless.
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Building a Military Family
We moved to Oahu when our daughter was just six months old. Living there for four years it was the only world she knew. After settling in we finally made an island family. Our kids would ride their bikes around the cul-de-sac they’d call middle tree,
and play after dinner at the park until taps came over the speakers.
Beaches, hiking, birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmases, we did it all together. A couple of us even became pregnant around the same time with our second child. Waddling to the Base Exchange and waddling all the way back. When it was time to go to the hospital we would watch each other’s children for days and treat them just like they were our own.
We were there through deployments, night shift and family emergencies.
On the fourth of July we would watch the fireworks over Pearl Harbor as the star spangle banner played in the background.
This was the world our children lived in. This was the life, the family, they knew. But in the military you’re on borrowed time. And eventually you have to say goodbye.
One by one families start to move away. One by one there are less kids riding their bikes and less kids to play with at the park.
Our oldest didn’t quite understand why we couldn’t go visit them. Of course we would try to explain just how big the world was. We’d show her maps of where Mimi and grandpa lived and how we were on a small island. But to her the answer was simple. Just get on a plane.
When they learn how BIG the World is
It was finally our turn to say goodbye. To pick up and leave this island we’d become so fond of. We spent the afternoon with our friends, ordering pizza while the kids played in the yard. Carlee and Ava had become so close over the years. Two little trouble makers.
Two four-year-old teenagers who would stay up late during sleepovers and pig out on pancakes the next morning.
Our flight took off at 7:00pm and we watched the lights of Honolulu fade into the darkness. Never thinking this day would actually come.
We slept as much as we could through the turbulence until our layover in LA. This time Carlee asked for a window seat on the flight to Texas.
She didn’t say much while looking out the window to the big vast of land below. After settling her little sister down I leaned over and asked what she was thinking. Through her small voice, still looking out the window, she whispered
“I’m never going to see Ava again.” Silent tears running down her cheeks as my four year old realized just how big the world was.
Goodbye is NOT forever
Most of us go through at least one difficult goodbye as we leave home and set off on a new journey. Less do that multiple times. Still it’s not easy saying goodbye and knowing it could be years before you see them again.
But that goodbye brings more hellos. More awkward hellos while you navigate this new place. While you try to figure out where you fit in. A hello at the park. A hello at the grocery store. Or maybe your neighbor chases you down the street with her stroller to meet you.
You’re on your way to making new family, new memories.
Another chapter that may not include the ocean, but a bonfire overlooking a pond, as you set off fireworks on the fourth of July.
Eventually we’ll have to say goodbye. And it’ll be painful, but it’ll be worth it. Because we know goodbye is not forever and hello brings another exciting chapter.
And if you were wondering…. they saw each other a year later. Not a day had gone by, only now they were two teenage 5 year olds pigging out on pancakes the next morning.