Oh, What a Year!

A year ago today, Adam, Todd, and I were completing the last 12 or so miles of our trek up (and down) Kilimanjaro.

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It was a quintessential bucket-list accomplishment, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, of which, in actuality, we’ve had plenty. (Once-in-a-lifetime experiences, that is. Some of them we could’ve done without.)

And what a year it has been since then, filled with things we never imagined or predicted. Here are some of the highs and lows, all mixed in together.

We attended our first ever Marine Corps Ball, right on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

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I spent a major holiday alone, separated from all family, last Thanksgiving–for the first time ever in my very long life.

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I survived, but I’m fine if I never do that again. Sadly, I could very likely repeat that this year.

Megan came to visit Africa! What a fun trip and a great opportunity for her! OK, maybe that one we both imagined and predicted.

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(BTW, I TOTALLY thought I wrote a blog post on this visit–we had such a great time–but I found the post in my draft folder the other day. I hope to finish it before this Christmas! )

We went to Bangkok and Chiang Mai, enjoying a completely different part of the world for the first time.

Randy’s father died, and we had a coup in Burundi, all mixed up in one big mess of a time.

And three months ago today, this happened:

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Happy Three Month Anniversary, Val and Adam! (I really do promise a blog post soon about that wonderful, wonderful day!)

And here we are, October 17, 2015. Who would ever have predicted last year, as we were descending from Mount Kilimanjaro, that I’d be here a year later, in Bujumbura, 5+ months into being separated from Randy? Not me.

At least now, 5+ months in, the end is in sight. We really, truly, for sure, not-kidding-this-time, will know something soon. Our 180 days (the legal limit for an evacuation to last) is over in just three weeks. Sometime between now and November 9, we will find out our fate. It will be one of three end results: either (1) our Ordered Departure will be lifted and all of our exiled family members and co-workers will return, or (2) we will become partially unaccompanied with only adult family members returning, or (3) Bujumbura will become an unaccompanied post, with no family members allowed.

If scenario 1 occurs, I have three bottles of bubbly chilling in the fridge to celebrate. If scenario 2 occurs, Randy will return, along with only one other adult spouse. I guess the four of us will share the bubbly. If scenario 3 occurs, the six current employees here at post (and three working remotely in Washington or Kigali) who have endured this 6 month separation from our families will likely request a compassionate curtailment and begin the process of finding a new onward assignment. I’ll be sad to leave Bujumbura, sad to leave our friends and this beautiful country I have come to love, but way past ready to be reunited with Randy and have this waiting game over.

Which scenario is most likely? Your guess is truly as good as mine. The unknown, the uncertainty, the waiting, the hoping, the guessing has all been part of what has made this time so stressful and difficult. Regardless of the outcome, there is not a person involved who is not ready for this to be over, one way or the other.

This blog used to be jam-packed full of amazing adventures and good times. I’m ready for that to resume.

On or before November 9th, we’ll know.