It hurts my heart to watch my kids experience some things some other young kids their age never experience. Growing up a military kid myself, I understand all too well the hardships of moving every few years and the sadness that comes when you have to say goodbye to friendships you’ve made.
We are a military family. More often than we would like, we move and change every couple of years. For the last five years we were lucky enough to stay in one place. During that time my girls grew strong bonds with friends they’ve met since they were toddlers. They had to adjust when their daddy deployed twice for 9 month periods. Then after their Daddy’s recent return from deployment, we received orders to Hawaii! The excitement of going to Hawaii and swimming in the sand and ocean over the summer sounded more like a vacation for them. It helped to distract them from the reality that they were actually moving from everything familiar over five years. It wasn’t until their household goods were packed away in boxes and they said goodbye to their family and friends that they had to understand their world was changing again.
Now after settling into our new beautiful duty station here in Hawaii, my girls naturally made friends quickly and had formed close friendships with two great little girls. My youngest daughter, Isabelle made best friends with one little girl, Riley. My oldest daughter, Charlize, made best friends with another great little girl, Anna. As typical military life goes, both of my girls best friends just happened to be moving around the same time this week. So today, I witnessed the most heartbreaking moment when my youngest daughter hugged her little best friend for the last time since Riley and her family are moving tomorrow. We had Riley at our house this afternoon to play and spend some time with Isabelle. But when Riley’s mom came to pick her up and say their goodbyes for the last time, it was in that moment when reality sunk in for these two sweet “besties”. When Riley left our house, Isabelle cried quietly on the couch. As I saw the tears roll down my baby girl’s face, I held back my own tears.
My oldest daughter, Charlize, will say goodbye to her bestie Anna this Friday, as it will be her last day of school before she moves too. How do I comfort both my girls who just made new friends in a new place and already have to say goodbye to friends yet again?
My Dad served in the Air Force and we moved four times in the course of my elementary, middle and high school years. From Kansas to Missouri to California to Virginia to finally settling down and graduating high school in North Carolina, each place I moved was far different from the last. And each time I moved, I had to say goodbye to the different friendships I’d made. It wasn’t easy for me then. Even after the few moves I’ve made as an adult and military spouse, it hasn’t gotten easier. Just as my girls have to say goodbye to their new best friends this week, I too, have to say goodbye to their moms who have become my good friends as well. When you meet good friends in military life, they become like family! The bonds are strong and the goodbyes are hard!
With the technology we have now from FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, texts and phone calls, the goodbyes are never truly goodbyes thankfully! Keeping in touch is far easier than it was when I was a kid with only letters and postcards to send. I have managed to keep in touch with a few friends from my school days and thanks to Facebook some I’d lost touch with I’m able to find again. I still keep in touch with one friend I’ve known since the 4th grade! Those friendships I cherish because they are lifelong friendships that have stood the test of time!
Knowing what I went through, it still pains me to watch my girls have to experience this change so soon again.
This afternoon I held my sweet tender hearted four year old as she cried and said she was going to miss her friend, Riley. I know I will have to do the same for my other sweet daughter when she says goodbye to her friend, Anna, on Friday.
They are young now and I know there will be many friends who come and go over their lifetime. I believe that God gives us the friends we need for just the right moments in our lives. Even if those moments are short. At least we had the blessing of having them in our lives now.
Wishing our friends good luck as they head to their new duty stations. We will miss them as much as we miss the friendships we very recently said goodbye to a short five months ago. And who knows, as crazy military life goes, maybe we’ll get lucky and blessed to meet up again at another duty station.