I remember driving into Texas for the first time four years ago. It all looked so foreign… the big sky, the flat roads, the fields of bluebonnets.
But this past month, as we left the Lonestar State, it was as if she was waving goodbye to us with tears in her eyes…the bluebonnets fluttering in the Spring breeze as we drove away, the gloomy sky dumping rain.
I’ve never felt as home as I did in Texas.
It was the first place my lead foot felt welcomed on the highways.
The first home that was our own.
The place where both our babies took their first breaths.
The first church and first Army friends that became family.
And it wasn’t just Texas that I fell in love with. I fell in love with who I became there. It’s where I found my best self, the person I was always meant to be – a mom.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I was leaving a piece of my heart behind when we left.
I will miss the life we created for ourselves… the routines, the special places we came to love – our favorite hiking trails, the Salado creek and corner candy store, Sunday ice cream at the creamery, lunch after church at Miller’s Smokehouse… all the hidden gems we’d slowly discovered along our journey there – the memories we made together as a family.
I will miss our backyard where many long hot summer days took place; all the dripping popsicles, splashing in our blow up pool, lunch picnics, grilling chicken and burgers, the late night fires, the movies on the lawn, and watching thunderstorms roll in bringing with them puddles and mud for our son to stomp in.
I’ll miss my friends – some of the best friends I ever had. They weren’t the childhood friends I was used to having, who’d grown up beside me. These friendships weren’t formed by the test of time, but rather by the bonds that formed through the short but beautiful seasons we experienced together, like having babies and deployed husbands.
There are many days I think I handle this life with grace and resilience. But other times like now when I can’t help but question if I am the wrong person for the job… the days when my heart feels like it's being ripped out of my chest as I say goodbye to the people and places I’ve attached myself to – the people and places who made it home.
As a military wife, I am called to follow my husband where the winds of the Army take him–yet sometimes when those winds arrive–I find myself wanting to wrap my arms around the biggest tree I can find, and never let go. The goodbyes are devastating, like the feeling of catching a big fish after days and weeks of trying, only to have to cut it loose as you’re reeling it in. As military wives, our friendships are often cut short in the early stages of flourishing. We must turn the page to a blank slate and start over, yet again.
Goodbyes hurt, but they are the best evidence we have that we are truly blessed in this life, and evidence of the goodness of our God who gave us new friends, adventures, joys, and memories.
For if we had nothing or no one to say goodbye to, how sad a life that would be.
As we spent our final weeks packing and planning logistics of how to get everything we own, two babies, two cars, and a dog halfway across the country, I learned that the process of moving entails more than just transporting goods from one home to the next. It’s the process of closing one chapter of your life, and beginning a new one. Military life comes with it a wonderful and elaborate story – but one with short chapters. Sometimes you feel as though you’ve just begun one chapter, and then it’s already time to start the next.
As we packed up box after box, I realized we were packing up not only our personal belongings. We were packing up boxes of memories that we’d bring with us to the next place. We packed up all the tools and attitudes and strength that we learned at the last place that will help us find new joy and adventure ahead.
All I know is that I want to make the best of this short-chaptered life by squeezing as much fun and friendship out of each place we go – finding the magical spots, creating new memories with our family, and exploring as much of this world we’ve been given. Even if some places are harder to leave than others, and even if the moves come with the price tag of gut-wrenching goodbyes… I want our children to see our example of how we say goodbye with grace, so they learn to live their lives the same way one day.
While it’s hard to leave, and I will surely grieve over the place we called home for the last four years, I choose to remember the goodness and faithfulness of our God that followed us there, and will follow us wherever we go.
I have learned to see the blessing in the hurt, but also the excitement and confidence looking ahead knowing that the One who provides, sustains, and cares for me – is coming along with us to the next place;
And then the next place after that.