We live near a large Army base in South Carolina. When we first moved here almost three years ago, we were excited at the prospect of being near so many other military families and being able to take advantage of everything the base offered (large playground, water park, commissary, events, etc.). But, what we didn’t count on was making friends who would only be around for a short period of time.
You see, my husband is in the Air Force Reserves. That means that if we move, it’s because we want to, not because the military tells us we have to. We don’t PCS every two years like friends of ours do.
We both grew up in Western New York and lived there for 20+ years. I had five years away for college and an out-of-state job but then moved back to New York. When we got married, my husband and I moved to Chicago, where we lived for 10 years. In both New York and Chicago, we had established a solid group of friends, went to a church we loved, had good jobs, and daily routines. Everything was steady. Our friends stayed. No one moved away. Instead, we were the ones who eventually moved. But when we moved to South Carolina, things changed.
When we first moved here and I started meeting friends whose husbands are active-duty military, I knew they might not be around for more than a couple of years. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. It made me sad to know I might become close to someone, and then she’d be gone just as quick as we met. While I do have those friendships that have stood the test of time and lived through multiple out-of-state moves, there have most definitely been those relationships that have disintegrated the moment the moving truck hit the road. Did I want to risk going through that yet again?
YES! Absolutely yes!
Friendship is always worth the risk. It’s selfish not to make friends with someone because she might be moving away in two or three years. It would also have caused me to miss out on some great relationships and fun experiences if I hadn’t become friends with these wonderful new women in my life. My children would have missed out on some pretty great playmates, too.
So for the past two years, I’ve focused on those relationships. I’ve spent time with my girlfriends on playdates and mommy dates. We’ve texted, called, babysat for each other, supported each other and gone through life together. It’s been wonderful! These women have made such an impact on my life and have been a blessing to me.
And now here we are with PCS season in full swing. I’ve had to say goodbye to one friend already. Two are moving this month, and two more will follow close behind within the next two months.
I hate saying goodbye. I’m not gonna lie. It’s bittersweet when you go for that last playdate or coffee date knowing it’s the last time you’ll see your friend for a long time. Maybe ever. I also don’t like that I have to rely on technology to keep in contact with friends. It brings tears to my eyes and a sadness to my heart.
What I hate even more than having to say goodbye to my friends, is having to watch my children say goodbye to theirs. My older son understands that people move away for different reasons. He gets sad for maybe a few days but then is able to move on. But my three-year-old is a different story. For him, it’s harder because he’s losing his day-to-day buddies. They won’t be taking trips to the zoo with us, or going to the splash pad or library. They’ll just be gone, and he won’t fully understand why he won’t get to see his buddies anymore. It breaks my heart.
I’m sad to see my friends go; sad to see my son lose his pals, but I cherish the special times we all had together. And I know the friendships that are meant to last, will. Yes, maybe some of them will fall by the wayside, BUT I will never regret the time we had together; never regret putting the effort into the relationship.
I am saying goodbye to five good friends. After that, the cycle will start again. New families will PCS to our area, I’ll make new friends and will have to say goodbye in another two years.
This is not what I’m used to; not my norm as the wife of a Reservist. But now I know part of the difficulty active-duty wives face each PCS season.
How do you deal with saying goodbye to close friends so often?