See You Soon Florida – A Military Wife’s First Visit Back Home

The first time I visited my hometown where all of my family and friends live, was 7 months after my husband, myself, and our son left Florida, drove 45 hours, for 7 days, and 12 states later arrived across the country to our new home – Washington State.

Now to have to travel back and forth to family takes a whole day of multiple flights, that are expensive and exhausting. So to say us visiting is a big deal – is no exaggeration.

When we said our goodbyes to so many people last year, we felt we were separating ourselves from one life to the next. And for 7 months I didn’t consider Washington our home. I thought of it as temporary. I thought home is where all my loved ones are. Where all our memories are.

I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.

Seven months after our journey, our new lifestyle in the Air Force, our new normal, and our new home, we were able to visit family back in Marianna, Florida. Our hometown. A place I had considered “home” in the back of my mind for 7 months.

But the things that I didn’t consider was how much people had moved on without us. Given a Category 5 Hurricane Micheal barreled through, destroying a high percentage of people’s belongings and livelihoods in and near Marianna, people we had waited to see were in no rush to see us.

(Disclaimer: this is about no one in particular and especially excludes my immediate family).

I am not writing this to blast anyone in particular, I am actually writing it to share my story because I know so many military families that have felt similar. Let me just say, I’m sure we seemed wrapped in our own world too, however, I wanted to share what I learned and grew from visiting my hometown for the first time since leaving.


I didn’t think that I would only see some of my closest friends or family (that lived within 30 minutes or less) once or twice or not at all.

I didn’t think that people would want us to come to them or be on their schedule for us to meet up. (Especially considering we have no vehicle here unless we use my parents).

I didn’t think that people would use so many excuses to not see us, most of all just being “busy”.

I didn’t think that I would be so ready to get back home to our routine and our new way of life in Washington State.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

I THOUGHT: People would offer to come and see us, just to stop by, regardless of work or being “so busy”.

I THOUGHT: People would have meaningful conversations with me to ask how I have handled raising a toddler all on my own away from family or how hard it has been – definitely not about how the weather is in Washington. It’s cold. Washington is cold.

I THOUGHT: People would make sure to see Jett, instead of acting like it’s no big deal if they couldn’t “this time”. NEXT TIME will be at least 7 months on top of the already 7 months that they haven’t. *Let me add the last time we were in FL he was 10 months old, now he is 18 months old and in 7 months will be over two years old.

I THOUGHT: I would be so overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and consideration of people taking time out of their full days to see us, that our calendar would be packed and pre-scheduled to the max.

I THOUGHT: My husband would be told a time or two of appreciation or how proud someone was of him for serving our country. How strong Jett was for being so resilient for going through all the huge life changes with us. Or of how much we were missed.


Now that I know what I should’ve expected, I feel at peace. Maybe I am being a little bit self-centered or expected way too much but I am not sad anymore about the small support system that we have because though it may be small (and few) it is so strong. We seen all the loved ones that wanted to see us. And that’s what matters.

We had such great moments, I felt so loved during my baby shower for baby girl, my family from out of town making a trip to come and see us, and being able to wrap our arms around people even if it was for a brief amount of time. I had great conversations with loved ones that took time to talk to me, about myself, my family, my new home, or my new pregnancy.

Though Marianna, Florida will always hold a piece of my heart I know now we have grown a piece of our hearts across the country too. We get to go home and appreciate our actual home – in Washington State – so much better now.

The military has shown and taught us so much already. Life can get “busy” but you make time for the things that truly matter to you, no matter the cost or inconvenience. It’s easy to get caught up in our own little worlds but sometimes, the smallest things you can do for someone, can make the world of a difference.

We had fun Florida! Hope to see you end of this year or the next!

With love,

Mama Aerial 💙❤️🇺🇸

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11 comments

  1. When you chose a life such as this, you realize you give up things…such as being close to family. Even family yourxclude. Maybe they wanted to see y’all…that we will never know. Regardless, I have a wife and child, I live within 15 minutes of of all my immediate family, and it is still difficult to see/visit/share time with everybody. I appreciate Drew’s service, but this is a choice y’all both made. At any moment did you both realize, your family lived through and are dealing with life after a Category 5 hurricane? I live here, I see it everyday…it is easy to “get busy”. Everybody here is living their lives and y’all are living yalls. Those who you haven’t invoked in your own, I wouldn’t expect anymore of a response to this blog or your return than what you got. Honestly, this was very frustrating to see and read. Yes, you have it hard. But you are not the only one. Live in a house that still has a tarp, live in an area that is hinging on government funding for help, have a job you don’t know the future in. That’s the life we live here. So I apologize your friends and family didn’t put a red carpet out for yalls return, but maybe you should realize your family isn’t so different from so many others. This is not a hate post, but it is a enter into the real world and other peoples world post.

    Wish Drew and you the best. Hope yalls 2nd child will be healthy and have the best life.

    Sincerely
    Cousin Michael

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    • Thank you for your input!
      I think where I was going with my post was that everyone goes through something, people are struggling with things that can’t be seen but the difference is there is a choice in making time (regardless of any of our circumstances) and a choice in using an excuse to be “too busy”. And yes there was a choice into entering the military and thank the Lord for that calling! My post showed a glimpse of things we have learned and “entered into the real world” about.
      Were people busy around us while we visited? Absolutely! My parents roof, pool, and trees where worked on while we were there! And they will have much more to do once they return home. My brother-in-law and sister worked every weekday and still came each day after work and on the weekends to see us.
      We went and seen many of our friends and families houses affected and seen many people ourselves but you are right – we could never understand the full affect of going through it ourselves, just as you could never understand the “real world” of the military.
      I have many military friends that feel the exact same way about visiting home (and their family and friends weren’t affected by a natural disaster). Hence the reason I felt compelled to write this post, not to bash hurricane victims.
      I think your response had a lot to do with people that I was not referring to in any way, (the people you claim that we don’t involve in our own lives) – the people I was referring to are the ones apart of our lives and that we kept in contact with since leaving and unfortunately I feel as if you have formed your own option about that personal matter, so I wont worry over responding too much to that – besides the fact that this post was in no way about that at all.
      So sorry that you were offended in any way over my feelings about our return home, in no way did I feel a red carpet should be thrown out for us (though that would’ve have been pretty funny!) but like I’ve said before, we will never understand what each other has gone through. I’m so sorry for all that you had to endure and are enduring still!
      Yet through everything we will make a way when something (or someone is important to us) and that was the point I was trying to make!
      God bless you and your family! God has blessed us all in so many ways, especially with the gift of time – I hope that we all can use that gift to make time for the things that matter the most!

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    • So…There was at least 30+ I’s in your post. A professional is analyzing this post.. My son was offended. Your husband made time to go see my daddy. You also had time to schedule photo sessions, so don’t go there about time and people. You also got a package for baby girl and Jett, that was never acknowledged, along with multiple others. We didn’t have a choice or option about a Cat 5 hurricane hitting us, our lives are forever changed including daddy’s. It’s ok, your heart is shown in the words you’ve written for all the world to see. It’s all about you. Sorry, but calling it as I see it. No compassion for others. This was what I saw at mama and daddy’s last year. You, nor Drew, never acknowledged his brokenness 🙁. Now, it is on the Internet. Don’t worry about another post…unless you want to extend grace as we all do.ALL my family has been taught about grace and forgiveness and will willingly offer. I didn’t get anything whispered in my ear either. 😊 happy Mothers Day!

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  2. This is for Drew😊

    Sorry Drew, but the blog really upset me, as well as Michael. We lost all the timber and my house was almost destroyed. Last but not least, Michael was out during the storm to try and get to my house. Mike and Jp went after him. I honestly did not know if they would make it back. I’m still sleeping on a sofa after 7 months and fighting with insurance. I have seen my daddy extremely emotional and broken hearted. So this is our life… but it’s OK. We serve a mighty God, that has given me unending and undeserved grace. I am thankful. I’m sure you’ve had a hard time adjusting as well. You chose to enlist, you weren’t drafted. I am thankful for your service and the fact that you are home. Wish you Aerial, baby girl and Jett the best.

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    • Since this blog is my own words I will reply to what I can! Thanks for your reply! Sorry that it upset you, but like I replied to your son’s previous comment, this post had nothing to do with my husband’s side of the family tree, nor hurricane victims.
      It was actually to express to others who may have went through a similar experience with living away or being in the military that it’s so important to make time for the people in our lives that matter.
      I’m afraid that you and your family took this post and thought that it was directed towards you but in actuality it was not.
      So sorry for such an awful experience going through hurricane Michael, I know no one in its path had it easy but thank goodness you and your family are safe.
      I’m afraid that you assume our since this is our life we aren’t allowed to have feelings about what we go through on a daily basis because of it being a choice to join the military, though everyone has choices just as you and your family did with your jobs, houses, etc.
      Natural disasters are not something you sign up for but neither are some things that go along with being in the military. Since Jimmy-Drew is the only one in the family to have joined, I wouldn’t really expect you to understand everything that goes along with it, especially considering the little to if any contact that we have. Nor should you expect us to know your experience with the hurricane but I will relay your reply to Jimmy-Drew to update him!
      Less than 0.5% of the U.S. population actually join the military and what fine heroes that do! Thank goodness for those that volunteer to serve for our freedom so others don’t have to be drafted that can’t or don’t want to join.
      I wish you and yours all the best but please know that this post was about people that are apart of our lives and about making time through our struggles, hardships and circumstances because one day we may not have the opportunity! Children grow so fast, so many things happen and change and we should never take the time (no matter how busy or at what inconvenience) for granted!
      God bless!

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  3. Aerial,

    Thank you for your response. I’m sure you have had a difficult time as well adjusting to a new life and it is great to acknowledge your feelings for others to see.
    I never truly thought this was in reference to our family, except perhaps Mama. Drew text her with a window of time to visit Jett and they were not able to go.
    The paragraph that upset me was the seemingly nonchalant mention of the storm, which in fact was not what you intended. Family, friends, and this community are forever changed. Your life has been as well. Hence, your post was about you and your struggles . Hopefully, this will help military families be better prepared. I am thankful again, for Drew’s service and he was the first to join. Uncle Ed was drafted and served in Vietnam. Aunt Pat was pregnant with Carmell.
    Yes, it is important to make time for others. It’s so sad when circumstances or situations keep us from family and friends. Sometimes, things happen and I know I’m guilty of not always investing in the lives of others as I should. Yet, I am thankful for the gift of grace that is extended.
    Hope things are going better since you’ve gotten back. I know you’re enjoying having your parents there! Rest up for baby girl😊

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    • Thanks again for your reply!
      Our window of time in Marianna was 16 days for Jimmy-Drew and me and Jett were there for 33 days.
      The reason that paragraph seemed nonchalant wasn’t because I am not aware of the effects of the hurricane -but was because that wasn’t what the post was about, at all. The point might’ve been better for someone else to make that had visited home who didn’t have family or friends affected by a natural disaster – which I’m sure there are many blog posts by other military spouses or military personnel where their words weren’t twisted or drowned out by another issue that the blog post wasn’t about.
      The audience was intended for other military families (with my title directed towards a military wife’s first visit back home) but I do appreciate your input and reading my blog! And as I’ve mentioned before it was in reference to people apart of our lives (where we know how the storm effected them and where they put their time and effort – while we were there for the sole purpose to spend time with them while we were able to).
      I wish you and yours all the best and hope that everything continues to be improved, fixed, and healed over the coming months. As we know as well, this is your new normal and I’m sure things will never be the same but God makes beauty from the ashes and can turn even the darkest situations into light.
      P.S. Yes Uncle Ed rocks! He has told us many stories about his and Aunt Pat’s experience and has been such a great supporter when Jimmy joined. I was referring to the immediate family though you are right Uncle Ed served and we are so thankful for his and Aunt Pat’s service (as well as their children).
      Blessings!

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  4. I honestly did not read all the comments so I don’t know if someone said something similar, but something I’ve learned after nearly a decade of military spouse life and living away from home is that many friends and family want to see you when you come to town but are not willing to drive that extra little bit to meet you while you’re there, they expect you to come to them and everyone else. We have adjusted our entire view of visiting family and friends because of this. We were always trying to please everyone and ended up not truly enjoying our time with people. It definitely gets easier with time and the more you visit the more you figure out how to work with everyone and find out who truly wants to see you and catch up. Now that we are moving to Hawaii we are already trying to figure out visits back so we can see all the people here we will miss.

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    • Thank you so much for your response!
      Absolutely! I’ve heard the same response from military families that I know. They echoed the same response as you!
      It’s a learning experience and one I wanted to share openly, since I know others feel the same way.
      I think making time for the people in your life that matter is so important and it honestly is so hard for most non-military families to understand or try to relate to.
      Thank you for you and your spouses’s service to our great country! The resiliency of military personnel, spouses, and children is uncanny!
      And I believe you when you say it gets better with time – I can already see how our expectations have changed for our next visit, next year!
      So exciting you get to go to Hawaii! That is our top pick next if we could get it! Wish you all the best!

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  5. I don’t think you understood my reply. Yes, I understand your reference to the hurricane was not nonchalant. I’m so happy you posted for other military families! You’ve done a great job! You and your family have made sacrifices for our country. Thank you!😊 have a great week!

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