If the Army has equipped me for anything it is goodbyes.
I love adventure and yet I am a creature of habit. I want to travel the world and not sit still. Before children I visited Israel, Egypt, Russia, Venezuela, Mexico, and Germany. My dream list is still rather long: Ireland, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, and back to Venezuela. For all of my adventurous side there is a struggle within me. I like consistency.
For now I read about my dreams in books and enjoy the quite peace of the Army sending us where they need us. There is simplicity in letting another take care of the detail of location. I prefer my days to have a simple structure. I order the same thing at the same restaurant for years. When they change up the menu I have trouble going back. (read about that here) I’ve allowed my mornings to become calm and our schedule to become lighter. My dreams have slowly morphed from traveling the world to the safe security of family and friends.
Perhaps it is because we have now lived in El Paso longer then I have ever lived in one place that consistency has a new beauty. Growing up we moved every 5 to 6 years. Before joining the army my husband and I never settled in one place long.
While we have not changed our location in over 6 years the number of goodbyes has increased exponentially. Whenever we have moved it has been hard to say goodbye to good friends but the sting has always been softened by the adventure and the friends we were moving towards. My experience with Army goodbyes has been so different. They do not feel like goodbyes.
They leave for various reasons: deployments, PCSing, death. Each one you hear a “see you later,” but the feeling that is prominent is loneliness. The Army is a small world. I know that some of us will be stationed together again. I know this because during my time at Ft Bliss friends have PCSed away, come back, and left again. I know that those who have passed away I will see again in eternity. The difference in these goodbyes is in the intensity of friendships. They form faster and stronger. There isn’t time to waste in a gradual courtship. If you want to know someone you do so today.
Maybe it is the holidays. Maybe it is because there have just been to many goodbyes this season. Maybe I am weary. Or maybe it is because a few months ago I said goodbye to one battle buddy and a few nights ago to another.
During this last deployment I spent every spare moment with two beautiful women. I raised my children beside them, we did holidays together, we cried together, we worried together, we co-parented and did life together. When I was sick my battle buddy Erica had me come to her house, made me my first Hot Toddy and put me to bed. She took care of my children and filled in for me at work the next day. Who does that! They PCSed a few days ago. My sudo-spouse (named so by my neighbor who never saw us apart) Jessica watched to much tv and ate to much taco cabana with me, worked out with me daily, and visited me at work. Both ladies made deployment not just survivable but enjoyable.
One PCSed and the other retired out. Neither are here now. I know others will come and more beautiful ladies will fill the current hole in my life. But no one will ever replace their day to day presence in my life. Others will add to the story, but no one will ever replace them.
When I think of these two ladies I think of one of the greatest friendships in Scripture, David and Jonathan. From the moment they met “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (I Samuel 18:1).”
A good friend is hard to find. A friend who sees you in all your flaws is almost impossible to keep. Thank you ladies for being that shinning light in my life. I know you are just a skype call away but I miss your hugs, laughter, tears, and of course Erica’s food.
While the Army has made me a professional at goodbyes and has tried to equip me with the resiliency to carry on, it has yet afforded me with the ability not to ugly cry. So while I go hide…