I’ve been quiet lately.
People keep asking me if I’m nervous or scared or excited about this next phase of life, but not really.
What I really am is sad.
The past few months have been full of many “lasts” for us. From the big things like my husband finishing up the last job he’ll ever have in the military, to the little things like visiting our favorite place in the Bavarian Alps.
We’ve spent seven of the last 12 years here in Stuttgart, Germany.
The first time we moved to Stuttgart was 2004. Our son was 2 ½ when we arrived, our daughter just five weeks old. We rolled in like a train wreck, landing on a Sunday when everything in Germany is closed. There wasn’t even any place close by to buy milk or bread. I remember thinking: “How can everything be closed? This is ridiculous. Don’t these people know we need stuff?” (We later learned that you can’t do yard work on a Sunday, or make too much noise, either.)
Now I love that things are closed on Sunday. It’s a day to worship if you choose, but mostly to relax and enjoy family time. Virtually everyone (save for emergency workers, gas station employees, restaurant staff and a few others) is guaranteed a day off. Groups of Germans go out walking or biking on the trails on Sundays and stop for beer or coffee along the way. They crowd any public place, regardless of the weather.
And yet we still manage to have the stuff we need to make it through the weekend.
We left here in 2006 and came back five years later. The day we landed was cold and rainy. I looked at Mark and said “We knew what we were getting into. Why did we come back?”
Now, for the most part, I love the weather here. It’s a nice mix of four seasons, most years with only a few extremely hot or extremely cold days. It rains. A lot. But that’s why it’s so green and beautiful. And when the sun does come out and the sky turns blue? It’s glorious.
The last time we came back, in 2014 after a year in Canada, I wondered if we should have moved to Florida or somewhere else in the U.S. to prepare for retirement and give the kids someplace to call home.
In the two years since, they’ve been to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia … plus some others I am probably leaving out.
During our time in Germany they’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, the canals of Venice, the Vatican, Pompeii, Buckingham Palace, the Matterhorn, the Mona Lisa, the statue of David, Anne Frank’s House. The list goes on and on.
Both my kids learned to ski here, learned to ride bikes here, made their first life-long friends, navigated elementary school through middle school, and grew from babies to adolescents.
Just like the list of landmarks visited, the milestones are too numerous to mention.
We leave in 30 days. We’ll get on an airplane and fly away – maybe forever – from the place we have come to call home.
So, instead of being nervous or scared or even excited, right now at this moment I am just sad.