I'm sipping tea as I write this, tea made for me by my husband...at nine in the morning on a weekday. This is a luxury I could have barely imagined a few months ago, but here it is. A few weeks ago, a major life decision came to fruition as Josh and I packed up our earthly goods, hitched one car to the other, and drove off, away from Georgia, away from the Army, and home to our beloved west coast. That day was a long time coming. Two years ago we made the decision to extend Josh's contract with the Army because he didn't feel right about getting out at that time. It meant two more years in Georgia, it meant two more deployments, but ultimately it was the right decision in so many ways.
Over the past few months, as his "separation date" drew closer, it felt more and more surreal that we were actually getting out. It felt like there was no way we could possibly actually leave. As we watched Josh's brothers in arms deploy yet again, it felt impossible that he would come home from work that day, like somehow he too would end up on the plane, perhaps even that he should end up on the plane. Getting out is a strange feeling. It's like dissecting yourself from a body for which you've been a living, aiding member, and suddenly having to relearn how to be your own independent organism. It's been almost three weeks, we've moved into our new apartment and it still feels like we're just on leave. It's a long way from feeling real yet. And then there's the guilt: we're leaving so many friends that have become family to us, friends who will continue to endure deployments while we reenter civilian life that, while it has its own set of difficulties, is admittedly a much easier existence; I've struggled with feeling that I'm abandoning people, as I'm sure Josh has, in a much deeper way. Even the fact that we're doing what we know is right for us doesn't lessen our feeling badly about others having to continue in a lifestyle that is just barely tenable.
The truth is, though, that I hope I never forget any of this, because then I would be just as bad as every other civilian who goes on with their daily life blissfully unaware of the families sacrificing so much. In time, I'm sure, I'll forget a little how hard it was for us, I'll forget how much it hurt and how long those nights alone were. I have to. I have to move on from what we're leaving behind so that I can start this new life with Josh, but I will never forget entirely, and I will always appreciate the gravity of the sacrifices made daily by our military and their families and do my best to communicate that to those ignorant of this reality.
It's such a weird life, and getting out of the army and starting over completely in a new city makes it even stranger. However, I'll never stop being grateful that we got the chance.