Being in the military has required our family to pick up and move 3 times in the last 10 years, which means saying goodbye to friends. Each move we have been lucky. We haven’t had any issues with any packers who steal or break items. In this last move the packers packed things in weird places. This made for an adventure trying to put the house back together. But in the end, everything was there and we picked up and moved our lives from Ohio to California.
But the one thing that was missing was our friends.
Every time we move we come to a new place and often times we don’t know anyone in the city. The people we have spent the last few years getting to know and doing life together are gone from our lives. Just like the fact that we finally don’t have to use a GPS to find our way around. We have celebrated births, birthdays, holidays, and life together and now we or they go on to a new adventure.
The military has a saying that it isn’t goodbye it is just see you later. And with technology and social media it makes it easier to keep in contact, but sometimes see you later turns into goodbye as your paths don’t cross again and life gets busy. Your old friends are replaced with new friends and life goes on.
And now that we have kids there is a bigger twist to life. These kids who are best friends are now separated not by a few miles, but hundreds of miles. My little guys are so little they will soon forget the friends they have made or moved away. But for now, it has not stopped my three-year-old from talking about his best friend. I keep telling him she lives far away, but he just doesn’t understand. Just like even though he has driven the four hours to get to Auntie’s house, he didn’t understand why we couldn’t go there today.
I wonder if a day will come when he realizes his best friend is gone or if he will just forget. And just stop asking to go see her and replace her with someone new. I wonder if it will hurt just like it hurts his mommy when he asks if he can go play and she has to say “no” each day. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this. And I know as he gets older it won’t get easier because the realization of what is happening will be in real-time, with real emotions.
When I think long and hard about this military life it is the friends who go from being around the corner to miles and miles away. You can keep in contact and talk, but you don’t get to do life together. You are not there for birthdays or special occasions.
And I’m not sure if it is normal to miss the fact you miss out on these things when you don’t move around. But these people who become your friends, are also like your temporary family. Since most often times families are so far away.
But if these past two years have taught me anything I know it is so worth letting people in. Growing deep friendships even if they are just for a short season of time. Doing life together for as short or as long as we can. Making memories, laughing, crying, celebrating, and more.
I miss you friend and you haven’t even left yet. But I am quickly coming to grips with the reality that you are leaving. I only get to see you one more time before you are gone for good. And gone, no longer around the corner. I wouldn’t give up our friendship even now. Even knowing how hard it would be to say goodbye. I’m so happy for the memories we have shared and I look forward to seeing you again. So I’ll end this with “See you later” and look forward to the day our paths cross again.
*I know that military families are not the only families who have to pick up and move across the country so this post is for all of you. Especially since it was written/inspired by my friend who is not in the military. But she, too, had to pick up and move her family across the country for work and now is going back home. This post is for all of us who have had to say goodbye to friends as work moves us from one place to another.
**I did not receive compensation for this post, but SimpliSafe will be publishing some of the advice they receive on their site.
SimpliSafe, a company protecting all of us with their wireless security systems, is encouraging military families everywhere to give some insight and advice about the ups and downs of military life. They inspired me to write about the hard things in life associated with being in the military and moving was on the top of my mind. And for me, it is one of the hardest parts and maybe one of the best parts of being in the military: Moving. Things can be replaced, but the friends we make are the memories that I will always cherish.