A couple of months ago, after much deliberation, really after years of deliberation, Dave and I decided it was time to retire from the Army. GULP! The Army has been our way of life since we married, and for Dave even longer. It is an insular way of life, not necessarily in all the negative meanings of the word, but insular in that it is a very specific, rule-following, mandated kind of life. Now, suddenly, we will be free. Alone. Making choices of where to live, where to work, what to do for the first time since I said “I do” and Dave swore The Oath of Enlistment.

I cannot describe the rollercoaster we’ve been riding the last year as we’ve come to this decision, nor the rollercoaster we are on now as we prepare to separate from the Army.  Thankfully the Army has created a special class for us to follow, to guide us on this journey.  This week we are both in class to gather as much information and help as possible to not only leave the Army, but also to prepare us for civilian life, work, housing, finances, medical and even lingo. We are going to have to stop speaking in the acronyms that are such an ingrained part of our daily vocabulary.

Almost every word out of the instructors mouth has been an eye-opener for us. It is amazing the things we do not know.  The things we’ve taken for granted. How many little things will change. How many big things will change. How many decisions we have to make.  The past couple of nights Dave and I have dropped into bed utterly exhausted, overwhelmed with all the information (but so incredibly grateful). We are too tired to talk, too busy in our own heads, and we simply clutch hands before falling into a deep, short, sleep.

We don’t know what the future holds, despite over 25 years of active duty, Dave is still young.  We still have a young household. While Dave does have serious, chronic, injuries from his years of service, he is still capable of working, and excited to start a new job, a new career, with a lot less hours than the military demands. His opportunities are endless. Tess is begging us to stay in Germany, until she finishes high school. She loves her school for the first time in years. Cole is debating attending an EU university, if we stay in a civilian position in Germany.  Dane is German (he is not). He never wants to leave. Our parents are at the edge of their seats, hoping we move back to the states. Our big boys, Soren, Nicholas & Christian, as well as our grandson Bert and his mother, are not pushing us to move back stateside… though Soren has found a house for sale just down the block from his own.

As we fill out paperwork for medical, dental, school, housing, allotments, claims, life insurance, burial plans, long-term care, our minds are just reeling.  I am truly looking forward to having a husband who is home more. Travels less. Works less hours. I am also terrified of what that looks like in practice. We are taking it one day at a time. Slowly.  We are taking advantage of every person at the Office of Transition. I sit at the front of the class and ask more questions than is probably appreciated, and still it is overwhelming.

Two things I know for sure. This is the right decision. And I will be forever grateful to the Army for the amazing opportunities to see the world. All my travel, all my experiences these last 7 years especially, would not have been possible without this job. It will be a bittersweet farewell, but I am looking forward to a new, bright, future. As Shakespeare wrote in The Merry Wives of Windsor:

“The world is your oyster.” I plan to make it ours.


On our wedding date in 1996.


Last year at the Colonel’s retirement with our favorite General.