By Mrs. Bassy Pekar
Summer always meant running outside and fingers sticky with melted popsicles. Summer meant long carefree days and splashing around in the pool. Yet now, living as a military family, summer also means goodbye. Summer is now associated with moving trucks and tears and too many farewells, with old friends leaving and new friends coming. It’s hard to believe that it’s already that time of year. Moving boxes and packing paper are once again a valuable currency and conversations are routinely peppered with the alphabet soup of military acronyms like PCS and TMO and HHG. Yet this summer it is us who are leaving; it is our home that is stacked high with boxes, our driveway with a moving truck blocking our cars. And as we pack up our belongings, new families will be unpacking, continuing the never-ending circle of military life.
I thought it would be easy, yet I find it hard to encapsulate into words the emotions that are running through me. As each item is wrapped in paper and placed into a moving box, I wonder how we are here already, how our three years in Okinawa are over so soon. We’re saying goodbye to more than the markets and beaches; we’re saying goodbye to our community and our home of the last few years. How do we say goodbye to the home my daughter took her first steps in, said her first words in? How do we say goodbye to the only home our son knows? How do we pick up and move to a new country when it feels like we’re leaving parts of ourselves behind? And we’re doing this, leaving Japan and moving to Germany, knowing that in three years we will be saying goodbye all over again, that we will be leaving behind yet another home.
I never really thought much about goodbyes, yet I think of them often now. I think of the seeming finality of the word, of the bittersweet emotions that are sure to follow. Yet in the military, goodbye is like an incomplete sentence, a story without an ending. We never quite know how the next chapter will read, if we’ll see our friends sometime in the next decade, or if our friendships will be beholden to technology and multiple time zones and hectic schedules. One thing we do know, however, is that our military friendships can withstand even the longest distances. One thing we can count on is our military family always being there for us, ready to welcome us to our new home and our new community just moments after meeting. Because military life really is just a constant circle, and we’re all in this together, all living the wonderfully chaotic and adventurous military life.
Originally published in the Tishrei 5783 Jewish-American Warrior