Sunday, June 3, 2012

Moving on starts with goodbye

I guess it's gonna have to hurt,

I guess I'm gonna have to cry,
And let go of some things i've love,
To get to the other side,
I guess it's gonna break me down,
Like falling when you try to fly,
It's sad, but sometimes moving on with the rest of your life,
Starts with goodbye
~Carrie Underwood

One of my very first memories of moving to Okinawa involved pulling up to our new home.  We had next to nothing at the time- our shipment had still not made it from America, we knew nobody, and we were still establishing ourselves as a married couple.  And so, we were on our new adventure in a faraway land in our young twenties.  
We pulled up to our new house and saw a man and his young son playing basketball in the parking lot.  I remember immediately being impressed that this man was outside playing with his son.  It's not something you see often in America, as kids increasingly spend less and less time outdoors and more time inside in front of screens.  We started hauling our huge suitcases into our completely empty home, which felt huge to a young couple just starting out.  
The man approached us to welcome us to the neighborhood.  His name was Steve, he was in the Navy and was an OB doctor down at the hospital.  His son, Cannon was 9 years old and he had two more kids in the house with his wife.  He gave us some advice about the new place we called home.  He warned us that he was from Texas, and he couldn't get over how hot and humid the summers were here.  He told us where we could go look for a pet (we ended up coming home with Neko just a few hours later) and finished by offering anything at all while we waited for our shipment of things to arrive.  
We were very impressed walking away.  We commented on how military families are very different then civilian families and we were happy to be a part of the military for that reason.  It seemed we moved to a very safe neighborhood.  I then distinctly remember saying, "Remind me to not see Dr. Coats for my annual check ups.  It would be too weird seeing the neighbor!"  Little did I know then that he would deliver my first child just a year later.  
Over the next few months we were friendly with all of the neighbors, but never became too close to anyone.  That summer, the world cup began.  Dima began talking to Steve, and found out he was a soccer fan as well.  Because of the time change, the games were on at very odd times.  But Dima and Steve were determined to watch the games, and eventually decided to watch them together, at all hours of the night.  It was those 2am soccer games that sparked our relationship with the neighborhood.  Just a few months later, we were more of a family then a neighborhood.  
In those 2 years, we have had parties for many special events- birthdays, christmas, memorial day, 4th of july, labor day, and my personal favorite- our annual burning of the christmas tree new year's parties.  We had get together after get together for random reasons too.  Typhoon parties that involved Dima and Steve sitting in the rain with drinks in their hands, bon fires "just because" and game nights.  We developed the strongest relationship we have ever had with anyone else since we met.  We said many tearful goodbyes to the other neighbors last summer, and knew it would one day be one of us leaving.  It was something we tried to not think about, and we were happy when the Coats extended a year and remained longer.  Unfortunately, that year is up now, and the Coats are on their way to their new adventure.  Steve is getting out of the military, and the family is settling down in Washington state, where Steve will begin working.  
Our neighborhood put together a goodbye BBQ for them, but they still had a whole week to go before leaving us.  Luckily, our friends, the Terpstra's (who ironically knew them long before moving to Okinawa) were nice enough to have a few of us over for a final goodbye followed by an outdoor bon fire.  It was a fun night, with a tearful ending.  
We are so lucky to have met these wonderful people.  They have watched us develop from somewhat newlywed adults to adults with a crazy puppy, to expectant parents, to new parents, to now- expecting once again.  Our lives have changed so much in the past 3 years, and I know that the Coats family has without a doubt contributed positively into the adults we are today.  

A look back at our time with the Coats family:
 Dima and his Girlfriend, Emmy
Dima and Steve, waiting on a typhoon

The guys at a BBQ

Karaoke guys
 Thanksgiving dinner 2010
 The guys, sympathizing with me at the end of my pregnancy
 At the park with the Coats and the Jones
Dima and Steve- right after Steve delivered our son!
Louise and I with the quilt group ladies
At the beach with the Coats
The Coats kids with me on my birthday
Dima and Steve after going deep sea fishing with friends
The ladies at the Marine Corps ball
 Marine Corps Ball
 Steve & Dima
 Christmas tree shopping with the Coats kids
 Christmas Eve baby Jesus reenactment
Dima and his girlfriend playing chicken

We thank them for every moment, every memory we have shared.  It was truly the most difficult goodbye we have ever experienced.  I can honestly say it was more emotionally difficult then moving overseas.  But we know this is not the end of the Coats-Stepanoff friendship.  We will remain in close contact with our family, and we will one day see them again.  Until that day, we all miss you terribly and wish you the best of luck in the new, exciting chapter in your lives.