The Happenings of Spring 2019
After Curtis’ family left at the beginning of April, we had a short weekend together before the craziness began. First came 5 days apart with Curtis still on island, followed by weekend duty, and then — finally — Curtis’ first underway on his own boat. While the past year and a half have had their own challenges, I consider myself very fortunate to be in the position we were, with him staying on island for almost the entire first half of his assignment. We had known this day was coming for a long time, and after many delays, it finally arrived.
But I found that after dreading this stage for so long, I felt nothing but pride for Curtis and his fellow shipmates as I watched the boat leave the harbor for the first time in over a year. It seemed so fitting that they be pulling out into the ocean just as colors played that morning. Instead of wondering how I was possibly going to make it through the week alone, I thought about all the hard work it took for them to get to this point, and I hoped and prayed that they would not only be safe, but also enjoy doing what they were meant to do.
The week passed quickly thanks to my busy schedule: work, getting together with other wives from the boat, and pursuing different hobbies. I started walking on average 5 miles every day (and have continued to do so ever since). It truly didn’t feel that long, and before I knew it, I was standing back at the mouth of the harbor with the other wives, waving at the boat as it returned home.
They were home for one week before the next underway. We made the most of the time we had, thankfully enjoying two full days together that weekend. We drove up to the North Shore for snorkeling and swimming one day, and visited the Honolulu Zoo the next. Late Sunday night, I dropped Curtis off for the next underway, scheduled to last several weeks.
This one started off much slower, and more eventful than I would have liked. There was a helicopter crash just blocks away from our house on our first day apart. It’s normal to hear planes or helicopters overhead, whether they be military, search and rescue, or tour guides, but when this one flew over our house it sounded much lower and louder than any other. Then I heard the crash — it sounded like a cannon blast, or a crack of thunder — the thought crossed my mind that it was the helicopter but I didn’t want to believe it until I heard the sirens and saw the news. All 3 riders died in the crash, but miraculously no one on the ground was hit, even though it fell on a busy street.
Having that happen so close to home kept me inside for a bit, but I slowly started venturing out and trying to make the time pass quicker. Charlotte and I were both eagerly anticipating the day when Curtis would come back — not only to have him home, but also because he would be getting a few months away this summer from the boat to study for the final step in his qualifications, which would lead up to our first time traveling to the mainland in almost 2 years!
We had just passed the halfway point when I got the call — plans had changed, they were returning immediately for a day and then they were leaving again for an undetermined amount of time. I knew that this kind of thing could happen, but didn’t expect it to happen so soon after they had just left the shipyards. The next 24 hours were an emotional roller coaster as we were reunited for a short time, but not knowing when the next time would be. The worst part was this meant that the ‘time off’ and mainland vacation that we had been so excited for were put on hold for who knows how long.
During this time, it was so hard for me to feel inspired to write or share anything. Obviously I couldn’t share what was going on, but I also just didn’t feel any desire to post on here about anything else despite having several drafts already written. All I wanted to do was escape from my thoughts. I went on long walks, read, and put together puzzles. I’m thankful I had a friend nearby that I was able to get together with a few times — we hiked together, had a wine and sushi night, went for walks, and other social events with the other wives. But some days it felt like all I was doing was trying to make it through, rather than make the most of my time alone.
As I sit and try to think back to this time, I find it so difficult to remember how I felt. It amazes me how quickly I adapt to these less than optimal circumstances and they become normal to me — and how quickly those routines and feelings disappear as soon as Curtis returns. Every day feels long and I don’t feel like I’m any closer to the finish line than the day before, but on the day he returns it feels like the whole thing flew by.
A week after he was supposed to return home (the first time), we received the best news: they were coming home earlier than expected! On the day after Memorial day, we gathered to watch and wave as the boat pulled in to the harbor. That afternoon, I also got to watch Curtis receive his Submarines Warfare pin, signifying that he is a qualified submariner. It was a long road to get here, but I’m so proud of how hard he worked for it and how he persevered through the challenges of the past year and a half.
April and May were filled with new challenges, but now we’re passed all that and are finally enjoying more time together as Curtis finally gets that much needed time “off.” We’re excited to enjoy this summer together, to embrace this time and live in the moment, not thinking about the inevitable time apart that will once again arrive all too soon. Lord willing, we’ll finally get that mainland trip we’ve been looking forward to ever since we touched down on Hawaii over a year and a half ago. We’d love to see as many people as possible while we’re there, so please reach out to us if you’re free to meet up late summer and we’ll see what our itinerary will allow!