Author: Rachael Hill
Change is sometimes the only constant we can rely on in our lives. No matter how good or bad a situation is, at some point it will inevitably change. Some changes are big while others are more subtle. My boys and I have recently decided to make a HUGE change in our lives…we have decided it is time to leave Alaska and will be moving to Minnesota this summer.
I had been thinking about moving for quite a while but didn't know if I could really leave Alaska. This was the only place Jeff and I wanted to be. This is where we made our home...and our life together. It was where we wanted our boys to grow up, experiencing the beauty and adventures that only Alaska could offer. How could I ever leave that? Not only that, but there are so many other things here that connect us to him - the Air Force base, his squadron, the scholarship fund we created in his name at the local university, plaques with his name on them all over the place, even a picture in Qdoba in memory of his crew Sitka 43, and perhaps most important of all, the site of his plane crash where we let balloons go every year on his Angelversary. Is it possible to just walk away from all of that and start a completely new life? A new life without his physical mark on it? Well, I never thought it was possible…until now.
I have always said I would never leave Alaska until I was ready, and to be honest it was almost an overnight awakening. Looking back on it, I'd had numerous conversations that started pointing me in this direction, but it wasn't until New Year's Eve that I realized it was time. In fact, I woke up that morning with every intention in the world of staying put right where we are. I even registered for a half marathon in June and a full marathon in August, both here in Alaska, not thinking for a moment that we wouldn't be here. However, another conversation that morning subconsciously made me think about turning down another path, and while my boys were on a fishing trip with the neighbors I started to do some research. The more I looked, the stronger the feeling got that this was it, and it was time. It was time for us to start a new adventure somewhere else.
Early after my husband's death I had a lot of people tell me they thought I would move out of Alaska. My response was always the same though, "Where would I go?" I didn't have a home that I grew up in with family and friends to go back to. We moved a lot growing up and now, for the first time in my life, I didn't have someone telling me where I was going to live next and when I needed to be there. Not only that, but I joined the Air Force right out of high school and this is the only life I have known…a military life. How do you leave everything you know and the life you created? How do you find the courage to completely start over without the person you thought you would spend forever with? I don't know, but I guess I'm about to find out.
Am I excited? Of course! Am I scared? Absolutely! In many ways I feel like an awkward, teenager again. Are people going to like me? Are they going to accept me for who I am and the baggage that I carry? Will it be hard to make friends? Are my boys going to be able to make friends? Am I going to be able to keep Jeff in their memories while living somewhere else? The list of questions in my head goes on and on, but regardless of all that, I can't help the feeling in my heart that is pulling me in this new direction. I have questioned myself and asked Jeff many times, "Is this the right decision?" While you know I don't get a solid answer (oh how I wish he were here to tell me what to do), I do feel like sometimes I can feel him nudging me, giving me the confidence to trust my instincts. I do feel that this is the right decision and I know I have to trust that, so watch out Minnesota. The Hills are coming to town!
"If this is the moment I stand here on my own
If this is my rite of passage that somehow leads me home
I might be afraid
But it's my turn to be brave"
-- From the song "Brave" by Idina Menzel