Take a drive – anywhere - on the weekends of our army installation, or anywhere in the city for that matter, and I’d bet a pint of Sweetwater Blue that you’ll see a moving truck. As soon as my eyes set their sights on one my mind immediately configures, “Army family. Moving in or moving out?” Last Thursday I was driving my daughter to ballet; her class is held in the dance studio on post. Driving through the time-worn WWII-era housing I spotted one – a moving truck. And they were moving out. I could tell because the packers were doubling their steps with armfuls of bubble wrap and boxes. It’s nearly February and I often wonder when I see moving trucks during these odd months if that family has children. Will the children be yanked from their friends at school? Will they have to start school someplace else mid-school year? Will the service member and his spouse have to essentially start over in a new (albeit welcoming) community? Yes.
Sunday night Brandon and I had to say goodbye to part of our army family. After 10 years in service, our dear friends are starting a new adventure in civilian life. Johnny and Brandon deployed together and have that unspoken brother in arms bond. Lauren was the first non-family member to hold both my littles right after they were born. That is the very definition of a military family: You’re physically there for them when their real family isn’t. And they were there for us when ours weren’t. She sat beside me in two different states in two different hospitals and held my two little girls. Now they have two littles themselves, and we arrived each time with bouquets of flowers, bottles of wine and baked goods to welcome in the newest addition – because their families couldn’t be there in our place. It makes my heart constrict to wonder if and when we’ll ever see them again face-to-face.
We were invited to their home to say our goodbyes before they leave in their bright yellow moving truck on Monday. And on our way there, Whitney asked in her sweetest voice, “Where are we going?” To which we replied, “To say goodbye to our friends.” We do it so often that it’s routine, but no matter how many times I’ve had to say it, it never gets easier to say goodbye to my loved ones. Never.
We pulled up to their house and I kid you not, I got déjà vu. Never mind that I’ve seen a half dozen moving trucks since Christmastime. I witnessed the same scene with these same friends. There was the canary yellow truck busting with boxes and behind it their personal vehicle hitched up to the rear. This was the same exact scene we saw when we had to say goodbye to them over two years ago when we were stationed together at another base. Fortunately, fate gave us the opportunity to live close to them at our current installation, but at our previous installation two years ago, we said our goodbyes knowing that it was “see you soon”. This time it wasn’t “see you soon”, and that made me sad.
Miraculously, as we piled back into the car to leave, Earth gave us a stunning sunset of blue and orange hues, and on the radio (yes, we still use the radio) the song Anything Can Happen by Ellie Goulding caressed our ears and gave me stillness even as the car pulled away from their house.
My happy place was found in an instant. Yes, it took a song to get me there, but I didn’t condition my thoughts and I found the calm. There was no, “I’ll be happy when we move away from here too”, or “I’ll be happy when we’re back in civilian life too.” I was happy in. that. very. moment. – even after saying a dreaded goodbye to our army family and not knowing if we’ll ever hang with them again.
Friends, live for today and find the happiness. Anything can happen.