Since joining the U.S. Navy I have had to say good-bye three times. And all three of those times, It was my father who was the last person i said it to. It made me realize something. A person never knows what those words mean until they really have to say it, with all the weight and all the emotions they convey.
When I was a civilian I would use those words multiple times a day with out the slightest thought. "Bye" usually meant "I'll see you tomorrow at school", "See you when I get home", "See you in a few minutes". It rarely, if ever, meant more than that. Then everything changed for me. The day I took my oath of enlistment and was shipped away to boot camp, I said good-bye with that same frivolous emphasis, despite the fact that my father knew already what it meant. I stood there in MEPS, shoulders back, proud and almost arrogant while my father desperately was trying to hold back tears of pride and, more importantly, loss. His little girl was proving she wasn't so little and was setting out to changer her life for the better, and he knew he couldn't be there to protect her. Needless to say, we were both emotional, but I was sadly less so. so I shipped off thinking everything was going to be cake. And in a way, it was. I found vast wells of internal fortitude, independence, and confidence that had been sorely lacking in my character. I learned the importance of words through the letters I wrote every tuesdays and thursdays. It was my only connection home. Those letters I sent and recieved were my life line.
I had two phone calls home those entire two months. It was necessary, But it was certainly painful. Hearing the joy in my loved ones voices when they picked up the phone and heard my voice always made me smile, but that always changed when the conversation came to a close. I hated hearing the uncertainty and the sadness in our voices, because my family and loved ones and I never knew when the next call would be. I cried. Down right sobbed.
And then graduation. I had my mother, my father and step- mother, and my fiance there. It was an awesome moment. I cannot convey dear reader the scope of the ceremony, the sound of the drum cadence as I marched in front of my family; the snappy way I moved to different procession stances. It was truly EPIC. It was labor day weekend, the weekend of my birthday, which meant a four day weekend. I had four and a half days with the people I loved most. Cloud nine, there I was. There was absolutely no better present the Navy could have given me. But of course the weekend came to a close and those four people gradually dwindled down to two. After my fiance's departure, my father's was the hardest good-bye. My father and I stood there in the public parking lot by the chapel and he cried, while I fought back my tears. It wasn't until I made it back to my compartment that I sobbed. Kneeling by my rack, placing away a beautiful white and gold fossil watch my dad had bought me for my birthday, I cried, feeling the full weight of my loss. I ended up spending most of the evening in the bathroom bawling my eyes out as quietly as possible. That was when it really hit me. Good-bye didn't mean "see you later". It meant, "I hope I get to see you again, I hope that you will be safe, and that you will be there when I finally can come home".
It was a year before I finally got that chance. Now my father and my fiance came to see me for christmas. I had mistakenly decided to say at the base over the holidays, thinking I didn't have enough leave days to go home the 15 days allowed by the command. It was nice of them to fly up to chicago to see me. and I said good bye. It sadly didn't hurt as much. In the 6 moths that followed, My personal life was hellish. I had become assistant class leader twice. The second time I was met with down right animosity and I eventually stepped down, feeling jaded and angry. I stopped trusting people. I felt forgotten by the friends I thought I had back home and did a major facebook cleaning in retaliation. I couldn't bring myself to think I had even a chance at friends in the Navy. and I still don't, despite how fond I have become of a few of them. I'm afraid of being abandoned, and I openly admit that fear. That lonlieness that came companion drove me half mad. so June rolled around and I seized my chance, having finished "A" school that May. I flew home as fast as I could and spent 10 glorious days in the fun and sun that was Florida. I spent 4 days at Disney World with my Mom and grandparents. I am ashamed to admit saying good-bye to her didn't suck. Mainly because I was going to Pennsacola to see my Brother with my Dad. I was back in that old, "I'll see you later" mentality. It wasn't until I had to catch my flight back that I really felt it. As I returned to Tampa from Pennsacola, I fought back dread and tears. I hated the base I was returning to because of those past six months. I loved my family and I loved the brief touch of my old civilian life. I wanted out of the Navy so bad it HURT. Needless to say We both sobbed infront of everyone in TIA. I know my dad well enough to know that he wished he could have made "Great Mistakes" easier for me, I just didn't want to go back. If I hadn't had been raised so well, taught to except my responsibilities and the hardships that come with them, I would have gladly made a mistake that would have cost me my future. But I am a Krager, and I had my work to do. So I went back to Greal Lakes.
Well two months later and a little more frustration, I went to Norfolk, VA for "C" school. It was a far supirior base from the one I had left. I didn't have to do the ol' run around to get what I wanted done. I enjoyed the class, and the people in it. I liked working with the gear and, basically, it was fun. The second to last week there, I was given some information. Needless to say it cemented my desire to go home rather than sit in a barracks doing busy work for a month. Don't worry it was positive information. not the kind of information that makes a person dread taking a step forward. I was made to realize that I actually could go home. My dad and step mom came to see me that weekend and we had a marvelous time in DC. and because we all knew I would be home in a week, Good-bye this time meant, "I'll see you soon."
It's been three weeks almost a month sence that good bye and I am now at my final destination for the rest of my contract, San Diego. I had a lovely time home, and driving to South Carolina to see my Fiance. The past four days with my dad driving cross-country so that I have my car here with me were a whole lot of fun. This morning saying good-bye at 0600 has been the hardest so far. Its harder for me to get home and for him to come see me. But I know that there is a very strong chance of me saying hello in person soon. Being a sailor has change my life and my perspectives. I feel like an outsider most of the time but I always know that I have people who love me up and down the east coast. They may be farther away now that ever, but they care.
Keep the people you love close, and don't forget Good-bye means a hell of a lot more than just, "See'ya later, biatches". Its Godspeed, "may you return safely to me". It's "I love you and wish I was there with you", and its "Don't forget me".