Friday, April 3, 2009

Farewell, NOAC. Hello, road trip!

Today was beyond bitter-sweet. Really, the last few weeks have been that way. It all started three weeks ago--that's when I got my end-of-tour award. I was shocked to get it then and wasn't sure what to say. It really got me thinking about "the end." I have the best job I've ever had. A year ago the thought of being "XO" scared the crap out of me. I wasn't ready for it, cut out for it, old enough for it, you name it. I didn't think I was the right gal for the job, just a gal that was in the right place at the right time, with the right rank, and with a relief on station.

Now a year later I love it! On the 24th was my farewell from the wardroom and I was lucky enough to have most of the chief's mess present as well. I only made it through about 3 gag gifts before I was in tears. The movers came the next day to get all the stuff we're putting in storage. After a busy week at work we spent the weekend busting our butts to empty the house, cram all we plan to take to the cabin and boat into a Prius and a Silverado, and move the family into a hotel. Emotion kept building as I started turnover with my relief, wrestled with the joys of Navy medical BS and a recurrence of the hernia I JUST had surgery on, tried hard to get time in with our neighbors and friends, and got ready to leave a job I was happy to go to every day. The command got together yesterday and had cake and a card for me. That may not seem like much to some folks out there, but I hated a few of my XO's so this was awesome in my book! The Sailors at NOAC are awesome. And yes, I cried.

Today was bound to be full of emotion. I woke up knowing that I needed to rush to get to Gulfport and wrap up my check-out and then bust back to Stennis to get to a Chief's retirement. Laying low at quarters didn't work--the Skipper called me out again and I managed to bawl in front of my command plus about 3 others. I finally had success at medical and got all checked out but it took longer than I was planning. I got back onto Stennis 35 minutes after the retirement began. By the time I got to the site, it would probably be 45 minutes...I would miss it. That made me sad. Back at the office there was more sadness as I packed up the last few items. I told the Skipper I was out of tears.

Or was I? A Chief came in and asked if he could see me for a minute. Strange...after a retirement usually everyone heads home. But there was one more farewell, one amazing honor. Thanks, Chiefs. The details of this one are for me for now...but yes, I cried again. Cried a ton.

Finally I was ready to go and had to say bye to the boss. I learned so much from this man and this command. He never held my lack of experience against me. He gave me enough room to make mistakes and learn. He understood the importance of family. He cared about his people. And I am going to miss working with him come Monday. Another hug, more tears. XO is one of the best names I've ever had right behind Mom and Wife, and walking out of that building stung.

Just when I thought it would be over I headed to daycare to grab the kids. More tears! This was their first daycare, the place that helped me cope with being a working mom, the ladies that had raised my kids for the past 2 years, their friends. We will miss them all terribly.

The long day is over. We're in Batesville, MS and will be at my sister's house tomorrow. We're on the way to our new life on our new boat. I am thrilled! I am sad! And I have very puffy eyes!

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