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Little Battle Buddies 

Today’s going to be a tough day. It’s the second to last day of school and my youngest’s battle buddy and best friend is moving this afternoon.

Her Dad is retiring from the Army and this is their final PCS.


Through some act of divine intervention we have been next door neighbors for five years, that’s almost half of my son’s life.

Although they are two very different kids, they just clicked.

My son is the only boy with two motherly teenage sisters and our neighbor is the responsible big sister to 3 younger siblings.

The fact that she won’t be here next year is making it a little easier on my son as we prepare for our departure later this summer, but right now it’s tough. 

Their first summer together was after 1st grade and was spent with all the neighborhood kids squeezing into another neighbor’s extra large wading pool.

The days were measured by swim time, creek time, ice pops with breaks for lunch and dinner.


Life on a tiny post afforded a freedom to wander unheard of outside the gates.

Bed time was announced by the appearance of lightning bugs and was occasionally delayed by a campfire and round of smores. 


In the past 5 years they have created a lot of core memories together.


They have walked to school in sunshine, rain and snow. They graduated elementary school and entered middle school together.

They have shared “late night” adventures delivering treats to a favorite teacher’s house, attended sporting events, built forts, tie dyed, sold lemonade, had squabbles, secret handshakes, and backyard Karaoke.

They stayed connected during Covid by playing online games, filling our road with elaborate chalk drawings and even the occasional social-distancing water balloon fight.

He would get up early on a weekend to go cheer at her hockey games and she would assist him in making Taylor Swift themed bracelets. When my son was deciding whether or not to do something, consideration was always given to whether his friend would be there too. 


Moving as a military kid is tough but being left behind is hard too.


Instead of getting to see and do new things you are left in your old haunts without your battle buddy. Other kids around you still have theirs which can make the experience especially lonesome.

My son is also moving into the age where Mom just doesn’t cut it for companionship. At the start of the school year and entry into middle school I was completely banned from joining them on their morning walk to school.

I can try and distract him from missing his friend. I’ll offer to walk to Starbucks or Subway with him but he’ll decline.

It was never really about the snacks, it was the sense of independence and adventure with his loyal friend. 


Tomorrow will be rough.


After five years of stopping next door to pick her up he’ll walk by her empty house and trudge down the road alone. His last day at a school he really has loved, despite his preteen complaining.

He’s nervous about the move and his next school. It’s an emotional time for him and she has been a kind, gentle understanding friend all these years. 

Exactly what every mother wishes for her child.

She is quick with a smile, gives him space to be moody, forgives easily and is just an all around beautiful soul. 

The military is their only real connection and as her family heads south and we head overseas, it’s unlikely their paths will cross again without some serious parental intervention.

I’m sure they will message and FaceTime for a while but recognize that life and time zones will complicate things.

I wish with all my heart that these two kids could go off to high school side by side but that’s not the case.

While we will mourn losing them next door, I am forever grateful for their beautiful friendship.


*Read Heather’s first post with Mission:Milspouse, Passing The Torch.



  • Heather Barnhill

    Heather has been a military spouse for an incredible 22 years. Despite her husband’s bedtime stories to their kids, she did not grow up in an igloo and was not delivered to Fort Drum by a dog sled team. Born in Nova Scotia she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters in Secondary Education in English and Drama. According to her bedtime stories to their kids, Heather met her handsome soldier Jason at a royal ball, just like Cinderella (if Cinderella met her Prince on the sticky dance floor of The Fire Station bar). They have 3 kids who no longer trust anything they say. Heather has sporadically been a substitute teacher, homeschool teacher and swim coach at their various duty stations. She spends her spare time volunteering for the PTO, helped direct the middle school musical, DUSA and sponsoring cadets. She loves writing and uses it to help her process military life. Her family is currently stationed in NY and are preparing for a high school graduation, college move in and overseas PCS this summer. She has fostered 19 cats and 3 puppies and enjoys swimming, running and theater.


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