Anyone that has read my blog knows that Okinawa is bittersweet for me … Most days its more bitter, but it’s not all bad. The truth is, I’m a family girl and a homebody (well, I was a homebody). I grew up across the street from my Nana and Pop and my Aunt and Uncle, I was no further than a 30 mile radius to most of my immediate family. When I was around ten or eleven, my Aunt Beth and Uncle Mike moved across the bridge, about an hour and a half away … at the time it seemed like the world was ending. But that’s just the type of family we are. We spend Sundays at Nana’s after Church and dinner is always spaghetti. Every holiday, we are together. We are close, in distance and in heart. So it was a little bit of surprise (not a huge surprise because everyone could see how madly in love we were), when I packed my things and drove the 8 hours to North Carolina to start my life with Richie. But North Carolina, was just a quick drive away from home. I didn’t even feel like I had left really, I spent several weekends in Maryland in the four months I lived there. The shock came when we announced that we were going to Japan, together as a married couple just 3 weeks after I had settled in NC. *Somewhere a military wife is nodding her head in agreement saying, ‘yes, I know exactly how that feels’* Once, I had gotten over my shock and we had decided that we wouldn’t let the Marine Corps separate us, I was 100% determined to marry the love of my life (check) and spend the next 96 years with him even if meant moving across the world (in progress). This is when I realized something extremely valuable … people are going to give you their opinion whether you like it or not.
My family and Richie’s family were completely supportive … they knew we were in love and that this was the real deal. They accepted it and helped us when they could, even though it meant letting us go far, far away. I know that as much as we miss them, they miss us too. The problem came when some friends and acquaintances began to put their two cents in … (Military spouses put your hand up if you have heard one or all of these) “Why are you getting married? It’s so fast!” “Are you pregnant? Is it just for the extra money he gets?” “Won’t you miss home? What about your family?” “Are you SURE about this?”
To these inquisitive minds, I said, “We know exactly what we are doing. We are getting married because we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives loving each other. No, I’m not pregnant. Are you serious? Did you marry your husband for money? OF COURSE, I’ll miss home and my family but I’d miss my husband even more. Yes, I’m sure. You just don’t get it.”
I can honestly say that some people were genuinely concerned and I appreciated it, but the judgemental tone from others was unwarranted. Here we are a year later and doing wonderful. Yes, we miss home but I am so grateful to be here with my husband that I wouldn’t change a thing. Our life is perfect because no matter what we have each other and that is enough.
Before I tell you about what makes a great friend … let me tell you about one in particular. Alicia Jackson. We became friends on FB a long time ago on a support group. Even though both of our lives have changed completely since 2007, we managed to become best friends and stay that way for the last five years. What’s so hard about that, you ask? Well, I lived in MD and Ali lived in KY. Our entire friendship has been long distance, but we never let that stop us. We talk on the phone all the time, FB, text and message. We always manage to stay in touch. Ali even flew out to visit me in MD in 2008 (because she is the best). She is one of the most fun, caring, kindest souls I know and to this day I still consider her one of the best friends I have ever had.
Now Ali, is among those who are great friends. Great friends have special qualities … like even if they wanted to tell me or Richie that this was crazy, even if they wanted to kidnap us in dark SUVs and lock us in a tower somewhere so we couldn’t leave the country … they did not. They held my hand, called me every day, stood with us at our wedding, spent every minute of the last days Richie and I had in the States with us and supported us no matter if they were in KY, NC, OH or MD and they cried with us when we left. In the past year, life has really showed me who our true friends are. Our true friends are the ones who call us, and Skype us, text and Voxer all the time despite the time difference. Our true friends send us mail and pictures and party invites just so that we don’t feel left out. Our true friends didn’t stop being our friends just because we had to move.
The truth about great friends is that no matter the distance, they will always be your friends. Some people use distance or lack of free time as an excuse to let a friendship fade. But the mark of a great friend is one who works for this friendship, they still love you even if they can only see you through pictures or the blurry lens of the webcam. And that’s who I want to have as friends. I learned last year who my true friends would be and I’m grateful for that painful lesson. I miss each of you every single day, I try to be the best friend I can be so that everyone knows that can count on me. I love you all … We’ll be home soon <3.