Days ago, as I looked around at a glorious Pacific Northwest day, knowing that I’ll be leaving all of this beauty behind in less than a year, I realized something. It is okay to mourn and be happy.
I tend to focus on the positive in any situation, especially when we’re moving again. As a military family, we’ve moved a handful of times – not as often as some, but enough to have called a few different states “home.” Most every time we’ve moved I’ve done so with the knowledge that it’s where we’ll live for a few years, and then move on. With that in mind, I always figure I’d better enjoy as much as I can of things I like and the people I connect with during the time I’ve there because it’s a temporary deal.
But this last move brought us back to the place we’ve lived twice before. My husband hiked and camped all over the Olympic Peninsula before we were married. It’s the place we started out as newlyweds. It’s where I went to grad school and where my husband has served on four submarines and a few shore duties too. We had our first two children here, have friends that date back decades here, and kind of figured we’d retire here. Until we decided not to.
When we moved back here last year there was a lot of discussion about what my husband’s options were after this sea duty was over. Would he try for a shore duty here? Would we move again and then come back here? Everyone, Scott and I included, figured he would put in at least that much more time as an active duty sailor before pulling the retirement string. Just a year ago, that’s what we all figured.
We’ve always heard that when you’re done (ready to retire) you’ll just know. And, suddenly, we knew. Both of us had reached this place where we were done. And once we started talking about retirement, we knew it was a done deal and simply a matter of time. But when we started looking at where…that discussion was harder. Of all the places we’d been stationed, the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with so much of our adult history, seemed obvious. And, over the years, we’ve shared fantasies of Western-Midwestern states (Colorado, Wyoming). But, we haven’t thought about returning to our childhood home for a long time. At least I hadn’t. As it turns out, though, that’s where we’re headed!
And I’m excited!
At the same time, though, I’m sad. I truly love this place and the family of friends I have here. It’s going to be hard to leave. When I share the news, I often get emotional, which makes people question if it’s the right decision. Let me assure you, it is. However, knowing it’s the right decision doesn’t make it an easy one or a less-complex one. Life doesn’t work that way.
I have a friend whose life changed drastically nine months ago. And when I say drastically, it is without exaggeration. Melissa’s husband was killed in a motorcycle accident where he was hit by cars that were racing on the highway. I probably need to say allegedly in here because the trial is postponed every month and nothing has been proven in a court of law. But, no matter what happens to the kids that were driving recklessly, the fact remains – Jared died. He didn’t come home. Melissa had the incredibly difficult task of keeping her husband ‘alive’ in order to harvest and donate his organs to help others. She had to say goodbye to a man who had been her support, her cheerleader, and her inspiration. She had to tell their four kids they wouldn’t see their father again. She did all this through an incredible number of tears. Through anger, sadness, and pain I can’t imagine. Nine months ago.
This weekend, she came to mind. While I was smiling at the joys of living with this incredible scenery around me, smiling even broader over being able to hug my family in less than a year…all those smiles were through tears that fell without my even realizing it at first. I am sad to leave these people and this place. And all of those feelings are okay.
And while I was having this realization, Melissa and her boyfriend were off on an adventure, seeing the coast, soaking in the sun. She is living what I only just realized – this lesson that can be applied to much of life, big and small: It’s okay to mourn and be happy. It’s okay to smile through the tears.
This…this is what life is. All the emotions. Sometimes all at once. And it’s okay.