I love my dad. I’m a daddy’s girl, and I treasure spending time with him.
My dad is incredibly helpful and loves to be involved with things need to get done. However, on our wedding day that wonderful quality threw a kink in our day and almost caused us to miss saying goodbye before we PCS’d across the country.
Back to that in a sec–
This summer marks 6 1/2 years of marriage to my handsome Navy man, Adam. Maybe the summer wedding season sparked the thoughts, but I reflected recently on my wedding and my first weeks as a Navy wife.
My first few weeks of “Navy life” buried me in a hefty pile of military spouse lessons– more than I expected in such a short time.
Today I’m sharing one such lesson. I’ll be adding more stories over the next few months, so don’t run off! Aaaaaand the PCS prep tips are coming below– stay with me!
Why we almost didn’t leave our wedding
We said our vows on a boat in San Diego Bay. All guests and personal items had to be off the boat within 15 minutes of docking or we had to pay an extra fee.
My dad walked down the street to get the car so they could load up quickly.
The problem: At exactly that time, my new husband and I exited the boat amidst cheers, and rushed towards the limo.
We scurried excitedly through the aisle of friends and family, saying goodbye and giving hugs to our close family members. Just before we hopped in the long white stretch, I realized I hadn’t seen my father.
I looked around, but he was gone.
My last chance
I found my mom and asked, “Where’s Dad?” Her eyes grew wide with the realization… “He went to get the car to help load up.”
Because of our destination wedding, our families would be heading back to Oregon right away. Hubby and I were moving to Rhode Island the next week, so it was my last chance to see him.
I stood on the curb, white dress flowing in the evening light. I didn’t know what to do. Guests stared awkwardly, wondering why we didn’t leave. Group by group, they peeled off while we still stood waiting. To my relief, Adam had no issues waiting.
Those who remained milled around, not knowing whether to stay or go. Heck, I felt weird too, but I stayed put.
We were moving across the country, and I was not leaving without saying goodbye to my dad.
Every military spouse will one day have to say goodbye to someone, whether it be a spouse heading on deployment or family & friends before a move.
And it sucks.
Saying goodbye makes leaving more difficult. And easier. It’s confusing.
Easier because we need the closure and the one last hug. Harder because we get all the feels and have to sneak wiping away tears over our friend’s shoulder so they don’t see while we’re getting that one last hug.
5 Ways To Prep For A PCS That Will Ease Saying Goodbye
On the practical side, we can take steps to make goodbyes as easy as possible and minimize any regrets we might have after leaving.
Get the digits
Update the contact info of all your friends, including social channels. Make sure you can reach them when you need to.
Think about who you would be sad to lost touch with. You stay up to date with 40 million friends. Prioritize who you want to talk to regularly vs. who you’ll be stalking on Facebook.
Communicate with the friends you don’t want to lose touch with and let them know you want to stay connected.
Even my best friend and I discuss how often we’ll chat. We’re on different coasts, and life gets crazy so we have learned to be intentional. When we fall off our usual pace one of us will get us going again with a call or text.
Express your emotions
It’s ok to be sad and excited at the same time.
Good things happen at the same time as tough things. You may be pumped about your new duty station but really bummed about moving away from special friends. It’s ok to experience all those emotions.
Expressing them allows you to process and cuts down on inner confusion.
Take time for goodbyes
We’re all busy, we all have stuff going on. If you’re the one moving, express to your friends that you’d like to see them one last time. You may not have much time to leave your house (during the pack-out, while cleaning, etc) so invite them to stop by.
Go out of your way if necessary because goodbyes are special. You learn who really matters to you.
Which brings me back to our wedding…
It took about 15 minutes, but my dad finally pulled up. He hadn’t realized the bad timing of his departure, and was so sorry to have made us wait.
I didn’t care about the waiting. I was just thrilled that I could give him a big hug goodbye before we moved to Rhode Island.
After that, we scooted into the limo, and sped off as the happy Mr. and Mrs. into Navy life.
I’m so glad I made the effort to say goodbye to my dad– the daddy’s girl in me would have always regretted leaving without a hug!