An Emotional PCS Move

group of military spouses
(Maricris C. Cosejo/DVIDS)

I've never really thought of a move as emotional. Stressful? Yes. Oh, yes. But emotional, as in lots of tears? Not really. There is, of course, sadness associated with all the good-byes that come with a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). But for me, the stress of a move tends to overshadow the sadness of saying good-bye to friends. PCS stress is like kudzu, it takes over everything and just chokes the life out of you.

But this move was different than all the others. I think I developed a permanent lump in my throat this time around.

Not long after the packers arrived, my husband received a phone call informing him that his aunt had died unexpectedly, so he went to the funeral and I stayed back to close out the move. He needed to be at the funeral, and I assured him I could handle the rest of the move alone. And I could, and did. But even so, as I watched him pull out of the driveway, I felt a lump develop in my throat. I was surrounded by people and chaos, but suddenly I felt very lonely. I missed him already.

This will sound awful, I realize, but I didn't really have ample time to pause and mourn the loss of a lovely woman, which was very odd. The house was buzzing with activity, and my husband's PCS to-do list was suddenly transferred to my to-do list. Business had to be taken care of, with one less body and two fewer hands.

Two days after my husband left, I drove by the house of some friends who were also moving. I saw their cars parked outside and made a mental note to stop back by when my errand was finished. When I returned to their house, only a few minutes later, their cars were gone. I pulled in the driveway and the owners of the house came out and informed me that I had missed them by three minutes. Three minutes? I had already said good-bye to them but wanted one more hug and one more promise to stay in touch. And I missed it. I fought back tears.

Back at the house, my neighbors came over while I was doing last-minute cleaning, yard work and loading the car. They were sad that they wouldn't be able to say good-bye to my husband and they made sure I knew that they were there to help if I needed anything at all. As I sat alone in the empty house for one last time, I choked up while thinking about how fortunate we were to have had such wonderful neighbors. Neighbors we will never see again.

The original plan was to have my car serviced after we closed out the house. We would go visit family together and pick my car up on the return. That was before my husband had to leave. Since he wasn't there, I now needed someone to take me from the dealership to the airport, so I called the only friend I had who remained in the area. I called her late at night, too, and asked if she would meet me early the next morning and shuttle me around. Without hesitation, she said yes. Mind you, her husband had just departed that very day for his pre-deployment training, and, as a double-whammy, she had just found out that her son would also be deploying soon. When she dropped me off and I waved good-bye, that familiar lump in the throat returned.

What in the world is wrong with me?

I finally met up with my husband and, after a few days of visiting family, we picked up my car and began the long journey. We planned to visit friends and family along the way, breaking up our drive. Our first stop took us to the home of some military friends we've known forever. For the past ten years, we've been stationed fairly close to them, but that was about to change. Driving away the next morning, I realized that we had no idea when we may see each other again.

My husband and I split up after that leg of the drive so that we could each visit friends in different directions. For me, it was onto Sarah's house. I arrived late in the afternoon, tired and weary. But as soon as Sarah got me settled in, we chatted until bedtime (and grabbed a great dinner). The next morning, when I was a few miles down the road, I began to miss Sarah and her company (and her dog), and I became sad again.

The last stop was to stay with more family. I was reunited with Max (who we shipped off to family before the move, and who has yet to come home). Saying good-bye to Max once again, and saying good-bye to the wild little creatures who call me Aunt, is always tough. I alternated between being choked-up and flat-out crying for a good hour that day.

Whew! I haven't teared up like this in ages, and not during a move. A PCS move that in many ways felt more like a deployment.

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