22: Celebrating the Tears

22: Celebrating the Tears

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: For Mom, with Love

Celebrating the Tears

Today I close the door to the past, open the door to future, take a deep breath, step on through and start a new chapter in my life.

~Author Unknown

I stared with dread at the square on the calendar. The words “Moving Day” seemed to gleam on the page as if printed in neon lights, not black ink. A lump rose in my throat every time I thought of leaving our apartment in Virginia. I’d known when I’d married my husband John, an officer in the Navy, that we’d have to move often. I just hadn’t known how hard it would be. I hadn’t grown up in a military family. In fact, I’d lived in the same house for twenty-two years before I’d become a wife. The closer the time approached for us to leave the life we’d made together in Virginia, the more depressed I grew.

When the packers came I watched in despair as they quickly wrapped up bits and pieces of our home in sheets of paper and stuffed them into boxes. Then they pulled out rolls of tape and sealed up the cardboard. A few words scrawled on the side of the box, “baby’s room — toys,” “kitchen — silverware,” and the comfortable life we’d had was stuffed out of sight.

That night I sat at the kitchen table and called my mother-in-law. She’d been a self-described “corporate nomad” for most of her married life, never living anywhere for longer than three years. I figured if anyone could understand my anxiety, she could.

“How are you holding up?” she asked.

My gaze drifted over the stacks of boxes now filling the living room. “I don’t know how you did it.”

“Did what?”

“Moved so many times. This is killing me.”


“No.” I sighed. “Mentally. I don’t want to leave. I love it here.”


Her enthusiastic reply surprised me. “You’re happy that I’m sad?”

Her warm chuckle brought a smile to my face, even though I was confused. “Let me tell you something, I’ve lived in more houses, in more states than I can count, and I listened to a lot of the corporate wives moan and groan with each new transfer. I decided early on not to be one of them.”

“How’d you do that?”

“Think of each move as a new adventure. I vowed to explore each place as much as I could with the kids. They knew more about every new state than people who had lived there their whole lives because we didn’t take anything for granted. Every vacation we’d take a road trip to some new corner or historic site.”

My heart lightened as my mother-in-law continued, “I always said, ‘If I don’t cry when I move away, I wasted my time.’ I don’t know about you, but life’s too short to waste any of it, don’t you think?”

Her motto stuck with me through my twenty years as a military wife. We made the most of every new duty station. We’ve walked through Revolutionary War forts in New England, panned for gold in California and slept with the sharks in a Florida aquarium. I tried to instill in my kids the same view of life. Every move is an opportunity, a chance to see new things and make new friends. And even though I cried as I left each home, I celebrated the fact that I hadn’t wasted my time.

~Kim Stokely

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