The ‘See Ya Later’ Timeline: How Do You Farewell Military Friends?


I just said 'see ya later' to yet another great military friend and her family today. As we were saying goodbye, I told myself, "MJ, you've done this SO many times.  It looks like you might get out of this one without any tears, right?"

And I did ... until I got into my vehicle to leave and spontaneously burst into a blubbering mess in the parking lot.

Really? A delayed reaction? Are you freaking kidding me? Ugh.

I have to come to terms with the fact that it will never get easier in my military life to move forward or away from my surrogate family. I guess it would be sad if it did get easier to farewell military friends. My point is this: It still SUCKS.

I don't typically moan and complain about all of the hurdles and uprooting and crazy emotions that are a staple of this lifestyle, but man, the 'see ya later' timeline can really wear you out sometimes.

I wouldn't trade all the friends I have made for a million dollars because every heartache is worth it to me. But may I just say that I just hate being the one that's left?

Even though it's very difficult to be the one that is leaving and moving away, by comparison it seems that it is much harder to be the one who is left.

This has mostly been my experience because we have been at one duty station way longer than most and I have had to say 'see ya later' to more surrogate family members than I care to recollect. The friendships that I have formed are not just friendships to me...they are my lifeline, which makes it that much more difficult.

I have a few more friends who are approaching their turn in the 'see ya later' timeline, and even though I know that I will deal with it as I always do, it seriously scares me anyway.

I know this is the name of the game. This is what we military families do. I have to keep telling myself that. I have to say it out loud.

I know that I will see the Rudd's again, because I will make it a point to see them. I know this for a fact because I have done and will do this for other friends who have come and gone. They visit, we visit, we get re-stationed with them. The Marine Corps is small. I have to remember to nurture the friendships that I have made and will make because that is what makes this lifestyle as rewarding as it can be.

So if you find yourself spontaneously combusting into tears after boarding the 'see ya later' timeline with another MilFriend and/or their family, I think it is a good idea to listen to those people who tell you to "embrace the suck." Cry, yell, hollar or silently hang your head for a moment.  It's OK to not be OK.

But when you are done, acknowledge that your tears are your reward.  Because that means that everything that you invested into them and everything that they invested into you was all worth it.

MJ Boice is a Marine Spouse currently living in the South.

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