When you’re in the military, goodbyes are a regular part of your life. You are very seldom afforded the opportunity to stay in one place for long. I’ve been in the Navy for my entire adult life, and they’re still hard. I’ve come to accept them as inevitable, but they’re still not enjoyable.
There are the obvious goodbyes that occur when the service member deploys. I’ve been through plenty of those, and they’re no fun at all. There is another type of goodbye, however, that doesn’t get as much publicity, but can be just as hard sometimes: waving goodbye to your military friends.
There is a family here in San Diego that we are very good friends with. About 5 years ago, I served with him in Virginia. We deployed together, and we worked very closely. He’s an amazing sailor and a terrific human being (despite the fact that he’s an aviator). It was truly a joy to work with him. During that tour, our wives also became very close friends.
Over the intervening years, our paths went separate directions, but we both eventually ended up in San Diego. Our kids are the same age, and our houses are a very short 3 miles apart. Even though they go to different schools, the kids have all become best friends. We hang out pretty much every weekend, and when he deployed last year, we spent about 5 days a week together. We have become what my wife calls “besties.”
We both recently found out where our next tours are going to be. While I will be staying in San Diego for the foreseeable future, he will actually be moving to Washington D.C. This is a terrific opportunity for him and his family, and we certainly wish them the best. It will be hard to say goodbye though. The kids are already talking about it, and I know my wife is upset. Chances are that we will be reunited once again down the road, but that’s not much of a condolence right now.
In the end, all you can do is give them a hug and help them pack. Then once they’re gone, call them and Skype if possible. It’s what we signed up for, and it’s just a part of our life. We certainly wish them nothing but the best, and we’re incredibly glad that they have this opportunity, but they will be missed.