When our family first arrived in Portugal in early August of 2007, I spent the first days and weeks living outside of reality. Reality couldn't possibly smell, look and taste so good! The smell of the sea, grilled fish, freshly baked bread. Sunny beaches, blue skies, palm trees, flowers in bright bloom. Long, peaceful, delicious dinners of grilled sardines (big ones that taste delicious drizzled with olive oil and white wine vinegar), steamed fresh, local vegetables, warm crusty bread, inexpensive local wine, and strong, dark coffee were spent by the sea.
As the months went by, Matt's long work hours and frequent TDY pulled me out of my dream-like state. But, my heart had been touched and every day that went by had me feeling more and more as if I had come home. I've learned of a different way of life, a life that I now love, and I will never be the same.
Now it's finally time to begin saying goodbye to this country that I love. This summer (late June/early July), DH, our two little girls (pictured here embracing the warm weather over the weekend in swimsuits and swimming caps) and myself will pack up and move to Fort Leavenworth, KS - our new home for one or two years.
A new kind of reality has set in - the reality of goodbye. Recently, I drove down the marginal, the sea and beaches to the right of me. I was overcome by the beauty and began to choke back the tears. I know military life well. I've said goodbye before and I know it isn't easy. In the past, it was hard to say goodbye to friends and while that will be hard this time too, saying goodbye to this place will be heart wrenching for me. Living here has not only been a great experience, it's has provided me with some of the happiest times of my life.
We will arrive in Kansas to familiar faces. We'll be closer to family and friends then we have been in over five years. We'll enter "normal" military life again (though, I'm not so sure how I feel about that now that I've been "away" from it for so long) and, eventually, I will embrace our new home, as I always do. Matt's fifteen hour (or more) work days and frequent TDY will be a thing of the past and we'll enter a time period in which the Army calls, "The best year of your life."
And, while I know that this move is a wonderful thing for our family, as it will bring us some much needed changes and opportunities, I am also quite certain that when I step on that plane this summer heading Stateside, I will begin the long goodbye to my heart - because I am quite certain it will take a long while for it to catch up to me in Kansas.