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The Journey to Being Home

Home is such a nebulous concept. For many, it’s a place or a house. For others, it’s a person. I always thought I knew what home was, or at the very least where it was.

Home was Nova Scotia, and more specifically, my parents’ somewhat worse-for-the-wear cedar house nestled snugly in the heart of the Annapolis Valley. Drive through the downtown core of Kentville, Shire Town of Kings County (as the signs on the outskirts of town boldly proclaim), hang a left onto Brooklyn Street.

Community of Meadowview

Follow that up past the hospital, through the little community of Meadowview (aptly named for its view of the meadow), out past the training area of the local reserve unit, down the hill, and there it will be, like a beacon in the distance. Big, bold, boxy, and the most hideous shade of brown you have ever seen. I’m sure if you look, there is even still an old straw broom resting on the garage roof; it’s been there for as long as I can remember.

I’m sure if you look, there is even still an old straw broom resting on the garage roof; it’s been there for as long as I can remember. My girls asked my father about it once, and he said, “Your grandmother overshot the driveway one night when she was coming home.” Rest assured, my mother did not find that nearly as amusing as we did.

My girls asked my father about it once, and he said, “Your grandmother overshot the driveway one night when she was coming home.” Rest assured, my mother did not find that nearly as amusing as we did.

This was my home from the time I was thirteen until I married at 22 when home became a tiny bungalow on McLaren Drive a province away, the first of nine homes my husband and I would make our own. Then, for the next 21 years, home was where the army sent us: back and forth between Oromocto, Petawawa, and Ottawa, with an OUTCAN posting to Leavenworth in between.

I, like so many other military spouses, became skilled at making a house into a home. It didn’t matter what town we were in or what it looked like outside. The inside always had the same comforting familiarity of home.

Moving From Posting to Posting

However, as we moved from posting to posting, town to town, house to house, the longing for a permanent home became stronger. Home took on an almost mythical status.

For years I’d dreamt of that time in the future when we would settle in our forever home, a barnred house in Nova Scotia. And then, suddenly, unexpectedly, that time came. My husband died, and I got my house in Nova Scotia. So what they say is true: be careful what you wish for, sometimes the price is far steeper than you want to pay.

I, like so many other military spouses, became skilled at making a house into a home. It didn’t matter what town we were in or what it looked like outside. The inside always had the same comforting familiarity of home. However, as we moved from posting to posting, town to town, house to house, the longing for a permanent home became stronger. Home took on an almost mythical status.

A few months after Dan died, the moving truck pulled away from Petawawa one last time, away from my life as a military wife and towards my new life in a civilian town as a military widow. I returned to the valley of my childhood, to the town where Dan and I attended university. I built my red house, though it was nothing like the one I had dreamed of for so long. For a while, I thought I might finally be home.

You Could Never Truly Go Home

I soon discovered you could never truly go home; because home is never the same, and neither are you. The Monica, who moved back a widow at 43 years old, was not the same one who had left Nova Scotia 21 years before. I was a 22-year-old bride embarking on my life’s adventure with my new husband. I was so young back then and so naive. I had absolutely no idea what life had in store for me. I came back home alone as a 43-year-old widow. I was not so young. And I was definitely not naive.

Moving forward is a process; it’s letting go and acceptance. Starting over is so overwhelming, I honestly didn’t even know where to begin. However, the answer was with me the whole time.

I will never regret the decision to move back to Nova Scotia after Dan died. In fact, I think it was a necessary move. In order to figure out where I wanted to be, I needed to know where I didn’t want to be. I will always love Nova Scotia. It’s beautiful, and the people are amazing. It was good for me to have that time with my family. I was grateful I was there when my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was there to support him throughout his illness, and I was there for my mom during that first difficult year after his death. So I think I was where I was meant to be when I was needed the most. But it’s no longer home.

Last summer, a moving truck pulled away from my red house in the land of my youth. Fittingly, in one of those odd twists of fate, the company I hired to move me was the same one that moved me from there almost 25 years before.

I knew I couldn’t move into another new house and continue living with things just as they had been five years ago. I needed this house to be Monica’s house.

The sapphire-blue house I live in now bears little resemblance inside to the ones I had before. When I left Nova Scotia, I left a lot of things behind. I’d had the same decor for almost eighteen years, and I was more than ready for a change. Even though he’d never lived in it, my house looked exactly the same as it had when Dan was alive. It felt like Dan and Monica’s house, except it wasn’t. I knew I couldn’t move into another new house and continue living with things just as they had been five years ago. I needed this house to be Monica’s house.

Moving Forward is a Process

Moving forward is a process; it’s letting go and acceptance. Starting over is so overwhelming, I honestly didn’t even know where to begin. However, the answer was with me the whole time.

I am from everywhere and nowhere. I am home.

Home is so much more than one person, place, or a physical structure made of bricks and beams. Home is the story of who we are. Home is the places we’ve been, the people we love, the moments we’ve lived. Home is inside of us. We carry it with us wherever we go.

I am from Nova Scotia, Oromocto, and Petawawa, Ottawa and Leavenworth, and all of the places I have been. I am from the dark pit of despair and the mountain peak of renewal. I am from everywhere and nowhere.

I am home.

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Monica Bobbitt

Monica was a military spouse for almost 21 years, until her husband was tragically killed in a LAV rollover during Ex Maple Resolve at CFB Wainwright in May 2014. Monica writes about her experiences as a military wife and widow in her blog, A Goat Rodeo, where she openly and honestly discusses what it's really like to be widowed and shares the wisdom she has learned as she continues to move forward with her life. She also shares her story with military members and their families at speaking events across the country.

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