When Good Friends Say "goodbye"
Posted 05 February 2008 - 08:01 AM
I've been married to the USAF for 11 years now and have spent most of it living the "single" life. No matter how long heís gone, he always comes back. My girls are young, 7, 4 and 2. When he retires in 5 years they probably won't have vivid memories of all the time daddy has been away. He has been around for all three births and most of the birthdays.
So why do I post? I just realized, last night, that I am actually depressed. At least I think I am. Life has always had its ups and downs, but I have never felt so disconnected and befuddled by, well, everything. I can't seem to get my head on straight. I have never felt like this before.
We are currently stationed overseas in Germany. Last night two girlfriends came over to play Scrabble, for the last time. Scrabble was our thing...well, Scrabble and wine. I couldn't keep score and the conversation between all three of us was not the norm. We didnít even crack open a bottle. We all seemed to be trying too hard. Then someone asked what we had been up to since our girlsí weekend to Paris two weeks ago. I couldn't put it together. What had I been up to? How did two weeks pass so quickly? Why hadn't we gotten together since then when we saw each other, or spoke almost daily? What day of the week was it?
They have been busy getting ready to move. Not just any moves, but overseas moves. One will be on the other side of the planet. I had lots of excuses. Jess had a ridiculous amount of schoolwork for 1st grade, and wrote a book (with help from PSE5 and mommy). Stephanie had been up coughing all night for two weeks (let's not get started on military health care). And Kristina just wanted to play, read and fight with her baby sister all day. I started going to the gym with some other ladies. I spent a lot of time thinking about finishing my MBA, my volunteer work on the base and a million other things. But they werenít the reason for my lack of effort to stay connected, or theirs, I think.
They are leaving. And in this Military World we may never be together again. A void is about to befall my life. And my brain is working overtime to find a way to fill it before the pain comes. They are about to move to a strange place where they will have to forge a new path for themselves. Our husbands go to work and meet people instantly. The wives are in a foreign place, making a new home, finding their way around a new town, looking for work or some other reason to get out of their pjs in the morning, forging new friendships, and above all, trying to find a decent hairdresser! Few things are as frightening. Being together these last two weeks would require facing all these things and knowing we wonít go through it together. Isn't it easier to separate now and cause less pain in the future?
No one enjoys saying goodbye to a friend. But, until you have girlfriends spawned from the life we live, you cannot truly appreciate the bond between military girlfriends (MGFs). It happens quickly, and without warning. There is no time to waste because we never know when it will be time to move on again. We tell eachother EVERYTHING! They tell you about their joys, fears and challenges. Chances are you have been through it too and you feel it deep in your gut. You go through it all with them. You trust them, instantly and implicitly. They arenít just girlfriends, or family, they are a lifeline when your family is too far away to help and too unfamiliar with your lifestyle to comprehend what you need.
In two days, one will leave. In two weeks the other will follow. By summer's end I will lose one more. And for some reason Murphy has decided to remove the three women I am closest to from my life. Oh, there is email and Vonage, but it isnít the same.
This is the source of my disconnectedness. I know there are greater struggles happening in the lives of others. And I know I will pull myself together again. God gave me three beautiful little anchors to life. Until I do I must go because, "Mommy, I need yo hep. My undies ah bwoken."
Thanks for listening
Posted 05 February 2008 - 08:32 AM
It certainly is tough meeting people you know you will be leaving, but on the up-side of it all, look at how many wonderful people you've gotten to meet in your lifetime now. So many people are born, raised and pass away in the same town (not that there's anything wrong with that of course!) whereas you've travelled the world, met many, many wonderful people and are lucky to get to call them friends.
It must be very tough to have your friends around knowing that they soon will be leaving and the internet is a great thing, but it is never the same as having them in the same town/city. I am so sorry for your heart ache and I do hope that things seem a little brighter for you soon.
Funny thing (kind of ... but not really) while reading your post I was thinking how my husband is desperate to get his next assignment in Germany, but probably won't happen. I wonder ... will you still be over there then, will we meet stateside? We have another 8 years in the military which means another 2/3/4 moves ... who knows - all I know is home is where the military take us and I wouldn't be without my DH for anything so follow him I will continue to do.
Good luck with everything and you sound like a very busy mother - that's where your time goes - taking care of your children and your DH when he's home with his family.
Posted 05 February 2008 - 08:47 AM
Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things. ~Author Unknown
Posted 05 February 2008 - 08:51 AM
So, as your friends prepare to leave I guess you must ask yourself how you will deal with the remaining time you have together. Here is a silly analogy but perhaps it will help.
If you have a lemon and you want to make all the lemonade you can will you squeeze every last drop of the juice from the lemon or, rather, will you tuck part of the lemon away so that you can make lemonade later? There are no guarantees that the lemon will keep until later. You know it is ripe now. It is up to you whether you save or squeeze every last drop out. You can dream of the lemonade to be or you can dream of the memories of the sweet tasting lemonade that you enjoyed while you could.
Hang in there. I know how sad it is to leave friends or have them leave you. I believe the Lord places people in our lives for specific reasons. I don't think He will ever leave you. I believe He is right now preparing your new friends to be just who you need them to be.
Posted 05 February 2008 - 09:11 AM
Posted 05 February 2008 - 11:49 AM
My husband was in the AF 22 years after we were married. We made 14 major moves and numerous extended TDY's, besides long periods of his being away during that time. I've had more hairdressers, dentists and OB/GYNs that I care to remember! And don't even get me started on military health care.
But it was always the friendships - and the homes that caused the emptiness - I got so attached to each. Oh, the Internet is wonderful and enables me to keep in contact with those I still know; some I hear from only once a year, some I've even forgotten their names, and then I have several others that are Keepers and will be close to me forever. Months might go by in between telephone conversations and then we can pick up just as if it were yesterday when we said, "I'll talk to you a couple of days."
As time and moves went along, I discovered that I became reluctant to make good friends because in the end, I would just have to give them up. I remember one Hale and Farewell party where I met a delightful woman who was just coming into the squadron as we were leaving. We made an instant connection and then both realized, there was no future in it. We were only setting ourselves up for more disappointment. I drew myself into a protective shell. That was a mistake. Please don't let it happen to you.
And of course, do try to keep yourselves, and especially your children conected to the family "back home." Military families have a way of becoming "of the family" but not "in the family." We were not there to share our lives on a day to day basis, and the infrequent visits were are able to make seemed only to accentuate the different people we had become. This is especially true if you decide to not relocate "back home" when your military spouse retires. Of course, this has changed a great deal because of how easily we can stay connected on the Internet. We elected not to go back to either of our original hometowns and I think both families took it as a slight and even more evidence of how we had changed.
You are in a tough position but it sounds as if you have the skills necessary to overcome the hardships and make your family's time in the military as rewarding as it can possibly be. Plus, you've got this forum to express your doubts and concerns. We'll always be here to listen.
This Beautiful Signature by Jennifer Z. Thanks!
Posted 05 February 2008 - 11:59 AM
If I ever get back to Germany ... I hope to be able to stop in for a visit. (Unfortunately, I can't see that happening too soon. And it sounds like you might not still be there when I do. *sigh* - Maybe someday, somewhere we will meet and I can give you a great big hug!)
For now a cyber hug will have to do ... so here it is ...
(Man, I wish I could make these emoticons bigger!)
Posted 05 February 2008 - 12:21 PM
I know it isn't the same as having your children and dealing with losing that support system that you hold so dear, but I remember when my best friend moved away and how much it hurt to have someone that knew me so well and understood me to just be ripped away. It sucked and remembering it still brings tears to my eyes over 20 years later! LOL Anyway, I just wanted you to hear at least one story that might give you a little bit of hope. Though my friend moved we are still BFs and figured out a way to make it work. We would fly out to see each other once a year or more when possible. We are still best friends even though I am in WA & she is in OK and even though it hurt like crazy to have her out of my life on a daily basis, but it was invaluable to have that person on the other end of a phone line when push came to shove and I needed my friend to talk to. I also know that her folks had some extremely close friends, like you are speaking of, that we living the same crazy military life as them. They always kept in contact and about every 5-6 years they would end up on the same base again or at least within traveling distance. They are all retired now and planning to move back to WA and try to find homes in the same neighborhood.
There is no better way to describe a situation like this, it just sucks. I hope you are able to keep that connection with these important ladies in your life, go get those web-cams set up so you can actually talk and see each other. Set up a weekly time to call and catch up so that you are able to keep your support system close. Big hugs to you, I hope you guys figure out a way to keep it close.
Posted 05 February 2008 - 12:23 PM
We will move to Japan in July. For the first time, I am not excited about a PCS. For every other move, I was ready to leave my work. Now, we have a house, three kids, and a church family that has been with us as we finalized the adoption. And, I would rather go to Germany. Also, Japan was a possibility twice before, and I didn't want to go then. The first time, I was worried about my mom's health. The second time, I didn't want him in Japan when I was going to be mobilized as a reservist.
Right now, I am thinking about all of the things that have to be done. Declutter the house. Clean it. Keep it clean for viewing. Sell it. Help the kids understand what is happening, especially when toys go into boxes. Live in a hotel for a few weeks. Take the kids on their second airplane flight. Live in guest housing for an indefinite period of time. Move into quarters. Live without a dishwasher or clothes washer and dryer in the house for three years. Help the kids make new friends. Get the oldest ready for his third new school in three years. Get our daughter ready for Kindergarten. (At least that shouldn't be too hard.) And somewhere in there, I'd like to get the youngest potty trained.
Posted 05 February 2008 - 12:51 PM
The military life is not easy, and it's hard to find and keep new friends. I've wondered how the men do it. I asked dh once, and he said he learns not to get too attached because he knows they will just move on, or he will. I don't think women can do that.
I know we aren't there in person, but you have all of us to talk to when you need someone to listen and understand! I've already found this board to be so valuable to me and we've only had it for a short time!
Posted 05 February 2008 - 05:01 PM
And to siskitkat, I moved to Germany with a 5 1/2 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old. If you need any overseas moving with kids advice, just let me know!
Posted 05 February 2008 - 05:36 PM
I know it's not the same thing, but there are a lot of lovely people here who would love to be your friend.
Posted 05 February 2008 - 05:51 PM
Than, we will stay in an extended stay suite type hotel until we fly. We have to keep our cat with us. We can't put her in the vet, or she'll get sick and won't get through customs. We got the welcome packet early enought to get the microchip, extra rabies shot, and blood draw for FAVN done in plenty of time. She shouldn't have to spend any time in quarantine.
I'll get the kids physicals done in April when I take our youngest in for his well-child. Than, I will reenroll them in CYS. So, I can hopefully get some daycare, and get them enrolled in some summer camps when we get there.
This will be my husband's first assignment that is not at a hospital. So, I usually can't complain about health care. He almost always knows someone to ask or to complain to.
Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:06 PM
Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:14 PM
Siskitkat I can't imagine moving that far with an entire family, oh my! I have to say military wives are some of the strongest people I know and it is for good reason. Good luck with the up coming venture.
Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:43 PM
Gwen, we're always here for you!
Posted 07 February 2008 - 04:07 AM
I'm president of a women's volunteer organization on our base. We have a "meeting" every month where we all get together and socialize, eat of course and make plans for upcoming activities. My MGF was Pres last year and active every year she's been here, so she deserves quite a send off. Last month I had to say goodbye to the MGF that left today and blubbered like a fool in front of 50 women! Now I have to go through it all over again. I say this with a giggle because I NEVER cry. I'm Irish, I get angry. And now I'll do it two months in a row AND in public! Oh, the horror!
With all your kind words I decided I must put these "happy thoughts" being sent my wya to good use. One of my New Year's resolutions was to write in my journal every Sunday before bed about the week. I also keep a small one with me to write down things about my girls so they can have a journal from me when they are grown. I made a New Life's Resolution last night. Every night before I go to sleep, I will think of 5 wonderful things from my day. I hope to scrap them, one page each week, and have quite a journal for the end of the year.
I think, if I can consciously (I'm a terrible speller find the good in each day, I can't possible worry about the less than great things. Right?
And as for the hairdresser... I'm growing it out. I can't take anymore EuroCuts! I don't have the personality to walk around with a work of art on my head!
Thanks ladies! You are a treasure!
Posted 07 February 2008 - 02:27 PM