Sometimes it astounds me the close relationships and friendships that resound in the military community. We arrive in an area, make lifetime friends within weeks (who we hang out with as if we’d known them forever), and a couple of short years later we move on. Sometimes we keep in touch daily (THANKS Facebook!), sometimes weekly, sometimes it’s months on end before we talk. But when we do, it is immediately like they still live or work right next door, and we haven’t spent a day away.
We just were blessed with such a reunion last week with a dear friend from Washington. The funny thing is, we knew him for less than 4 weeks up there. Had never actually met his family (though had heard of them and read their blog so I felt like we “knew” them a little bit). He was one of our NICU nurses. I remember bonding over quoting Princess Bride at, I believe, 3 am (or so) one day. I remember his personality and gentleness with the babies. And his true love for his job and the little tiny infants in his care.
The last time he saw the babies!
We kept in touch. An email here. A Christmas card there. A phone call to the NICU around significant dates in their lives and/or holidays. And then they decided to go on a family vacation. And it conveniently was to the area where we live. I was ecstatic. Jumped for joy. Literally. Pretty sure I scared my husband when I shrieked after hearing they were coming here. And got excited. And then waited. And waited.
Well, they visited last week. It was absolutely a joy to meet them. Part of the fun is that the babies are 2 now. He got to see them with personalities (temper tantrums and melt downs included). And since they have 6 kids of their own (only 2 came), I didn’t feel as stressed about the chaos that is our lives with them witnessing! We did amazing things. The aquarium, and with the extra help (his children are a delight) the babies got to REALLY experience it. They walked. They explored. They touched the animals in the touch pools. There was a 1:1 ratio (or more) at all times. How cool is that?! Aiden got to hang out with an awesome teenage big brother, and you could see it in his temperment and personality that he was enjoying having an older kid to look up to. Their youngest was so gentle and sweet with all of the kids, and they absolutely loved having a big sister to play with.
It was funny, having visitors means you go and do things you haven’t yet. Even though you’ve been somewhere for 2 years. We found the Carmel Mission (very not-stroller-friendly) and were able to really enjoy it with the extra hands. I had a “proud parent” moment when we walked into the mission (granted, only the gift shop so far) and Aiden looked at me and asked, “Mommy, is this God’s place?” Why yes, my dear child. Yes it is.
Fr. Serra’s tomb at the Carmel Mission
We laughed. We toured. I’m pretty sure there was crying and screaming (normally due to the lack of a toy, or a stolen toy, or a mean parent who forced them to put clean clothes on…), but his whole family took it in stride. It was such a blessing. And if we can keep in touch and stay friends a thousand miles and two years later, what’s a silly little move to the Northeast? It’s just a few more miles the emails/texts/phone calls have to travel!