I realize that no one's life is guaranteed and saying goodbyes are often unwanted, military or not, but for those with friends or family in the military that happens regularly. And I've decided it takes bravery. Bravery to put yourself out there and share a piece of your heart and life with someone you will inevitably have to say farewell to. Bravery to know that you won't always be able to keep in touch as closely as you'd like- because after a while you have made so many good friends that there is no possible way to keep in touch like you were able to when you shared a life in a mutual location. There are literally not enough hours in my week to connect with the many close friends I have, who are spread all over the world, as often as I'd like. And losing touch is unavoidable. So watching friends leave (or leaving yourself) means that you not only know full well the reality that life will be sad whenever you drive past the house they no longer occupy, you also know it won't be the same because you can't connect like you once did. From now on, you'll have to first play catch-up before you can get around to heart stuff. Which means it takes longer to have a conversation. And because long chunks of time are hard to find, that means you just won't get to talk often. And at first you won't talk for a week or two, but weeks turn to months and soon you realize it's been over a year since you've had a good phone call with a person you once knew so well. That's why a good-bye isn't just a "see you soon" it's the end of a chapter. Life changes, though friendship continues. And it's sad.
Last Monday I watched one of my closest friends leave. She was a sister- in a time when family is 5,000 miles away, it was HER who helped plan my firstborn's first birthday, HER who came to the hospital as soon as Liam was born and helped me through the tears when my baby was wheeled to the NICU, HER who had balloons and dinner waiting when we finally got to come home, HER who shared our holidays, HER who I'd call when I wanted to run to the mall and wanted someone to share the drive with...
Today I said goodbye to another precious friend. We saw each other every Wednesday afternoon when I taught her daughter piano, and drove to choir together every Tuesday night. Our kids played together, our families shared dinners together, we mothered similarly, we laughed at life together, we understood the other well....
And in about 2 weeks I watch one of my first Hawaii friends leave the island. She knew me before I was ever pregnant, she was the neighbor I'd see on her way to check the mailbox that sat right in front of my backyard, she brought us food when my firstborn came home, she celebrated birthdays and holidays with us, and our husbands shared a good friendship as well.....
And then in 5 months (which sounds long but is SO much shorter than it seems) my other sister leaves. Though, for the survival of my heart, I'm living in denial right now and pretending that's not happening. And after that, it's our turn.
And all of this just makes me very, very sad. Because it hurts, watching life change when it has been so sweet. And while change is good, because God is good and life is full every place we find ourselves, it is always sad to see the empty houses, and to see the days that used to be filled with a weekly memory pass by, or see a fb post that reminds you they aren't just a quick trip down the road.
So for those of you who have befriended a military family, whether in the military or not, THANKS. Because it takes courage to understand that hello will too-quickly accompany a good-bye and be willing to do it anyway. It takes bravery to be willing to share your heart without reservation as if you had a lifetime together, only to understand that friendship will change in quality and location before you're ready for it. You don't have to. You have the option to see us and smile, leaving it at that because we come but will surely go.
You just need to know that we need you. We need friends, even if just for a year or two or three, to make it feel like home and to have a full life. We need someone who will share holidays with us and be our family when family can't be found. And hopefully you need us a little bit too, to share our stories and adventures and families and hearts.
We're desperately grateful for your bravery.
I'M desperately grateful for your bravery. Thanks for being my friends. I understand the cost full well.
Our Hawaii Ohana: