On Monday, I spent some time staring at a moving truck – yet another milestone in the adventures of life in the military.
Only, this moving truck wasn’t for my family. It was the truck that would hold all the belongings of our friends Kay and Dave.
Dave is in my husband’s unit, and we all became friends during an intramural bowling league last year. Every Thursday night, our families spent the evening bowling, laughing and supporting the unit in the quest to win the championships.
This event allowed us the time to hang out and get to know one another.
We are in different stages of our lives – Kay and Dave have three young children; we have one about to hit her pre-teen years. However, where we are in our lives had no effect on how close we became. Our similarities in personality, future goals and hobbies drew us together.
Thursday night bowling spilled into occasional dinners and barbecues and then to camping trips and card games. Kay and I began nightly walks and a girls’ nights out. When Kay or I had issues to discuss, we were only across the road or a phone call away.
Dave and my husband Mike could spend hours watching sports or discussing work, and of course, cars. Football games and Mixed Martial Arts fights were male bonding time.
And despite the age differences between our children, there was even a bonding there; my daughter loves to play with their kids.
Through thick and thin, they’ve been there; they even sat outside a hospital in Garmisch, Germany, on the way home from a vacation while we waited to be seen. With three little ones and a dog piled in the car, they refused to leave us behind – waiting in the sun, eating chips and playing games in the gravel.
All of this will come to an end next week when Kay and Dave fly out. This is an unavoidable part of military life – you make friends, and you say goodbye to friends. For me, this is the second hardest part of military life. The first is, of course, when my husband has to deploy.
It seems saying goodbye is a common theme in our military adventures – goodbye to deploying spouses, goodbye to duty stations and goodbye to friends. Moving on brings you new friends and experiences. The trick is not to forget the old friends. And, I think that’s one thing most military families are good at. We make friends quickly and bond faster than most of our civilian counterparts.
Our time is limited – there’s no room for politics, games or social dilly-dallying. The clock begins ticking when you hit your new duty station and you’d better move fast.
The friendships we make move with us too. Christmas cards, e-mails and phone calls keep you in touch with those you’ve left behind. Kay and Dave will always be a part of our lives. We are better off for having met them.
While they move on, we will stay here for another four years. But who knows what the future holds. Maybe on our next assignment after this, Kay and Dave could be right down the street again. I’ll be ready – girls’ night out and evening walks.