While stationed in Guam with our young family, I met a couple whose three older children were all back in the states: they were attending college, married, or living on their own. They now found themselves a very different family with their last child at home. Looking at my own small children, I had a little flash of foreshadowing as I tried to wrap my brain around how difficult it would feel to be literally half a world away from one’s young adult children. Over the next several years, I witnessed several friends dealing with the same scenario and saw how difficult the separations were—for the parents and the kids.
As the years passed and we continued to move, the thought became a reality. When we moved from Germany to the Pacific, one of the hardest days of my life was leaving our oldest child at his college in Texas en route. (Let’s just be real for a moment: I cried myself to sleep for two weeks.). Aside from the normal emotions that coincide with the first one leaving the nest, it was made worse by the fact that we’d be so far away and wouldn’t see him for some months. Today finds us on the East Coast with that young man now serving in the Air Force himself and our second son in Hawaii, finishing college. Who knows what paths our youngest two will take?
One of the most surprising aspects of the long-term military service my husband (and by default, me) has embraced is how difficult it would prove to have our own children begin scattering around the globe. Maybe you can relate.