To all my dearest military spouses,

(brace yourself, this is not glamorously written, my English degree wouldn't likely approve.. but eh, keeping it casual)

To all my dearest military spouses,

“appreciate this moment. Stop and look around you. Be thankful for all you have and where you are because this time next year, nothing will be the same.” –r.h. Sin

Change. Phew.

I sit here writing this with the same pit in my stomach I have experienced time and time again. A true friend just packed up her family and moved away. A friend I immediately knew God sent to me in this brand-new town. Upon first introductions she told me she was a military spouse I chuckled, of course she was, we were instantaneously meant for one another and now I knew she’d leave. Saying goodbye is a scene I’m accustomed to. I can’t even count the amount of times I found myself in a friend’s home chatting normally, purposely avoiding acknowledging the mountains of moving boxes. This is normal, this is our normal. That transient military life. We’ve been stationed in New Jersey now for about 8 months, and it is anything but what I expected. This marks our sixth move in 8 years through the Marine Corps. I don’t dare dive into the discussion of “how the military has changed me,” because to be quite honest I’m too exhausted to tackle that one. So instead I choose to keep this post brief and to the point. 

We left behind Jacksonville North Carolina in September 2018. We’d had our longest duty station that lasted four full years. The crazy part was the familiar faces we were able to be stationed with; friends that we had made way back when Matt entered flight school. It’s quite unusual to meet military families and then “follow” one another around. Somehow a tribe of us all ended up in good ol’ Jacksonville, North Carolina. More specifically New River Air Station. I brought my first child there when she was just eight months old. My best friend lived directly across the street with her daughter who was also eight months old at the time. We had a dozen families within walking distance that would welcome us into their homes simply if we knocked. Pleasantville with a dash of deployment doom. Additional friends were simply a quick car ride away. Our lives were so interwoven that we essentially helped raise each other’s babies. We ate together, shopped together, cried together, and held one another up when we felt like we were failing. And goodness, we took turns falling hard, only to join forces and pick each other up to see another day. Our open-door policies made us family, and our kids relied on our spousal bond to stay glued together in our husbands’ absences. 

Fast forward four years. One by one we all began receiving a set of new orders. Not that we weren’t privy to the fact that eventually we’d all be separated, but it was a distant notion. You bravely pretend it’s normal, and that you are “salty” enough to handle the goodbyes. You restrain the tears and say “it’s fine, it’s what we do.” But we all knew it was anything but “fine.”

These women: the spouses who offered guidance and security for your upcoming move even before you got the chance to meet them. The friend who came over, Pedialite in one hand, wine in the other. The one who never failed to pick up the phone with assurance that we weren’t insane, the children were. The friend who sprinted over, kids in tow, to bathe YOUR children, sing them a song, and put them to bed, because you were too sick to even peel yourself off the floor. The friend who accepted you with immediate open arms and you later sat with searching for words to calm her three year old who nearly choked on a peppermint. The neighbor who encouraged you back into church and offered buckets worth of kind advice. The countless friends who selflessly gave bags on bags of baby boy clothes.  The ladies whose children were like your own. The kids you didn’t even birth, but smothered with kisses after scolding and sending to time out. The gals who expected nothing in return but gave you their entire souls, because we knew our time together would be fleeting, so we had to lay it all on the table. The middle of the night texts through tears because your babies wouldn’t sleep, and the witty responses to ground you yet again. The older friendships you reminisce about when seeing that matching tattoo. The newer friendships that came right when you needed them most and filled your friendship tank as well as bottomless coffee cups. The newborns you remember photographing, or the fresh infant placed in your friend’s arms because her husband missed the birth and you were lucky enough to step in. That person you held hands watching a husband’s aircraft land after a deployment, then who quickly snuck out to respect a family’s homecoming. The mundane moments, the memorable moments, the ugly truths, the big victories, we survived it together ladies.

I could go on about these individuals I’ve met over the years but to be truthful, these women know exactly who they are and how much they’ve gifted me with their friendships. Scattered across the nation and literally around the world, I thank God he brought all of us together. 

Maybe next time I’ll gush how the military has changed me. But for now I need to send a thank you to those fierce women who got me to where I am today. Regardless if I met you fresh out of college, two kids under my belt, or have had the pleasure of meeting you now. I love each and every one of you, and have learned that we are truly better together. 

“surround yourself with people who add value to your life, who challenge you to be greater than you were yesterday. Who sprinkle magic into your existence, just like you do to theirs. Life isn’t to be done alone, find your tribe—and journey freely and loyally together.” –alex elle

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