The Reality of Surviving a Surprise PCS Move

Two words: Curve balls.

Military life throws lots of curve balls.

And I learned to be a slugger early on in my hubby’s career. I’m talking about handling it like I hit a walk-off home run!

YES! Honey YES! I’ve got this.

Well, that was until our last PCS.

Leading up to the bombshell, we were living it up during our three-year orders in Hawaii. We were enjoying life and just passed our 1.5-year mark.

Our friends and family visited us – we loved that. Everything felt perfect. Almost too perfect. The beautiful weather year-round, the kids enjoyed school, hubby loved his job and I felt like I could breathe.

I appreciated the chance to just be random.

Right up until the day everything changed.

As I sat in my office doing some work, I noticed my husband’s car pull into the driveway. Not a big deal, just a little weird. He rarely came home for lunch, and when he did, he always called to see if I wanted something to eat or to ensure I didn’t have a house full of women laughing.

He entered the house with a Wendy’s bag and asked if I had time to join him for lunch.

MmmmHmmm…ok, weird, but ok.

A junior bacon cheeseburger, fries, and strawberry lemonade. Hmmm…he had the order correct.

BUT here’s the kicker, the giveaway: Ketchup packets.

He NEVER remembered ketchup packets, even when I would tell him fifty times to get them. His argument is we have ketchup at home.

(And just so I can say it to the world: It’s not the same. Ketchup at home is for fries cooked at home. I need ketchup packets from the fast food restaurant. It just tastes different. End random rant.)

Then came the “what-if” scenarios.

I knew something was going on but wasn’t expecting the words he was about to say.

What is going on? Just give it to me! Tell me what’s going on.

“Baby, we have to go.”

Not fully grasping what was about to happen, I responded. “Ok, yeah in 1.5 years, so let’s go ahead and look at options for our next duty station.”

“No, we have to leave now. As in, soon now. Not 1.5 years now. We are going to Pennsylvania, and I’m going to school at The Army War College.”

All the slugger techniques I learned early on in my hubby’s career escaped my brain.

There was no walk-off home run.

There was no I’ve got this.

The curveball launched directly into my stomach and the only thing left to do was deal with the aftershocks that jolted into my head.

I fell out of my chair, screaming, rolling around the floor like a maniac. I looked like toddler who was told it was time to leave the playground.

I wasn’t ready for this PCS.

We had things to do: A concert at the end of the year, Christmas in Maui, more visits from friends and family. Our kids were in their groove of life in Hawaii.

There are some duty stations I would’ve left after the first three months…

But, not this. Not Hawaii.

Things started moving supersonic.

Within days, we told the girls. The kids explained that they knew something was going on because I was “a little bratty” these last few days.

Part of me was about to get them.

And another part of me knew it was true.

The curveball left me with painful bruises. My wincing was too noticeable to hide. I was so wrapped up in my own grief that I missed the second curveball pitch.

In fact, I never saw the second curveball coming.

We went rapid-fire preparing for our move to Pennsylvania: Orders cut, household goods scheduled, submitted for student housing at the War College, contacted the high school to get information and course offerings for our rising freshman because classes were already being selected, stables contacted to continue riding lessons for our middle daughter, Facebook groups joined for me to make connections.

Ok, we’re all good. Let’s do this.

I pinched my eyes shut, smiled and clasped my hands together, shaking them to the right and left of my head. A small victory cheer of sorts.

Then, the second pitch came.

You know…the curve ball.

The phone rang, and as if I was about to have a normal conversation with my husband, I answered.

He announced, “Baby, what are you doing?”

{insert long pause}

“What if I said we could go to D.C.?”

I only managed to respond with four words. “Are you kidding me?!!!!!!!!!”

The slugger techniques…still absent.

There was no walk-off home run.

There was no I’ve got this.

Emotions. Ran. High.

Grumbling, I got back on the phone to make changes, trying to find housing, a new school, facebook groups, a riding stable, and change our household goods shipment.

I wondered if there was any point, knowing that it could all change again quickly.

But before new plans had time to develop, the day came for us to leave the island.

We said our goodbyes.

It’s what happened next at the airport that completely changed my outlook on the move.

A dear non-military friend offered to give my family a ride to the airport.

I remember chatting with a young man at Los Angeles airport (LAX) as we waited to board our flight. My family was tired, and I was emotionally drained. I didn’t want to go to D.C.

This young man’s name is Caleb.

I know his name because as we got off the flight in TX, he ran toward us saying, “Hey FAM with amazing smiles!”

He handed me a note and off he went.

His note was such a blessing and truly helped me see the brighter side of this unexpected and sudden move. I still have the note in my office, and I look at it from time to time to remind me of our purpose as a military family.

His words….

“I’m believing the BEST is yet to come for your fam. Lives will be forever changed because of your courageous decision to say YES! You can’t miss all God has for you, so walk boldly knowing you will be taken care of, and it’s gonna be AMAZING!”

PCSing is two words: Curve balls.

Leaving people and a location you enjoy can inflict some painful bruises to the stomach heart, jolts to the head and deep emotions that run high.

But remember that when you feel like you’re about to strike out, there’s always another pitch coming for you to snag your walk-off home run.

You are AMAZING.

Your strength, light, courage and lessons learned are the exact things that will help another spouse know how to slug those never-ending and elusive curve balls.

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