Ahh, PCS season. It’s one of the most exciting, yet heartbreaking times a military family will ever experience. Whether we’re sending off our dearest friend, or embarking on a new adventure for ourselves, no military family will argue that from May through October, our sense of belonging and security take a beating.
The Toughest Part of Military Life
Saying goodbye at PCS time is by far, the hardest part about being a member of a military family – and we’re always doing it.
Year after year, we see moving trucks lined up and down the streets of base housing, packing up the belongings of those we’ve made lifelong memories with, those who’ve become family.
We say goodbye to our families when we move away from home to be with our servicemember. We say goodbye when our spouse deploys. We say goodbye when we PCS every 2-4 years. Saying goodbye becomes part of our routine, and when we have children of our own, it becomes our obligation to indoctrinate them in this ritual as well.
By the time our children are in elementary school, it’s likely that they’ve already made friends and parted ways with them several times. The cycle continues. It goes a little something like this…
At age 4 my daughter attended preschool aboard MCAS Cherry Point, NC. The following year she attended Kindergarten locally and really started to feel comfortable in our new “home”. One month into first grade my husband received orders to complete his special duty assignment and it was time to say goodbye to all of her newfound friends and head to Virginia where she’d spend the remainder of first grade and a portion of second grade at one school, and the remainder of second grade and third grade in another due to our housing arrangement at the time. We’re settled and enjoying our new home, but in another year’s time we’ll be off to our new home – wherever that is.
I don’t know what’s harder – saying goodbye to our tribe when it’s time to PCS, or watching our kids say goodbye to theirs.
It Hurts, But It’s Worth It
As spouses, mothers, and the ones responsible for holding down the fort at home while our service members are away, we draw into ourselves, avoiding the awkwardness of meeting new people, and protecting ourselves from the inevitable hurt that ensues when we finally click with someone, only to find out that they’ve recently received orders across the world. It doesn’t take too long for this feeling to become all too familiar.
Fortunately, as the universe would have it, when hope seems lost and no friends are to be found, the most wonderful person walks into your life when you need them the most. And it’s in that moment, that you find the strength you need to keep enduring such a unstable lifestyle. It’s in that moment that you realize all of the goodbyes, while bittersweet, are worth it because you’ve had the opportunity to have met such an incredibly amazing and diverse group of people.
An Experience Unlike Any Other
Saying goodbye the way we do is unlike anything that anyone who’s not experienced it will ever understand. We’re on a journey and I urge you to embrace it – for as many times as we say goodbye, we’ve had the opportunity to say hello to many more.
We’ve all witnessed our own PCS heartbreak before, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience – after all, we’ve met someone worth missing.
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