Exactly two years have passed since we bid our tearful goodbyes. As recounted in our blog post titled "The Journey," it was Ralph who embarked on the initial move. The farewell was far from easy, etching a profound memory in our hearts. Ten minutes after Ralph's departure, Courtney took a moment to reflect, capturing her thoughts, which are shared below in red. On this anniversary, Ralph pens his own reflections in blue, revisiting the emotions and experiences of that day two years ago and what life has been like since.
“It’s the hardest thing yet. Saying, “goodbye.” It’s been about 10 minutes since Ralph left and I am thankful that the boys have all found something to keep themselves occupied for a few minutes while I try and gather my thoughts. The word “surreal” just keeps coming to mind. I feel numb and then I cry.
It’s actually here. The time where he goes ahead of us. I told Ralph that I didn’t know what was better: sitting in a car and reflecting on everything or being home with the three boys who barely give you time to think…
Ralph was so good to me, as usual, before he left. He got the tractor and put it in the garage for me in case I have to plow the driveway. He filled the tank. He filled up a bunch of buckets of coal halfway even though he knows darn well that I’ll have to do it on my own a whole lot more for the next 20 days. I know that’s part of the reason for why he had such a hard time leaving. He knows how much work it is to manage this house and the kids and now I have to do it all by myself…in the wintertime…
Devin and Connor were clueless of course. They were all smiles. Liam definitely had the greatest understanding out of the three. He saw Ralph and I crying and hugging and joined in. He told me after Ralph left that when we were hugging, he felt a tear hit his head from Daddy. He cried with Ralph and then after he left.
This is not easy. I told Liam we would keep busy. That we have to decorate the house, make cookies, get together with friends, and pack. Our time will fly, I am sure.
Liam, Devin, Connor and I all prayed for daddy and our family. Everyone gathered around and held hands which was truly a very precious moment. I had the go pro running.
All I can say is that it’s a good thing that I have had nights and full days without Ralph being home before. This should feel just like that, but only for 20 days in a row.
I didn’t even mention yet that we have been sick with the covid for the past 10 days or so. It’s been terrible. We’ve been exhausted, coughing, feverish, body aches, runny nose, headaches, lower back pain. It’s been interesting over here to say the least.
This is not going to be easy, but I am relieved the hardest part is over: saying goodbye. I don’t know if it could get any harder than that. Like I said to the family in our prayer, God is doing a new and beautiful thing for our family.
This is very bittersweet. Ralph has to go ahead of us in order for this transition to be more smooth. The reality is that the boys (and I) are a great distraction. They have very little idea how big all of this is and the big decisions that have to be made. They still want their baths, their cookies, for you to see their latest creations, read them a book,… kiss their booboos. They still need mom to be present for all of those things. Its what they are already used to. Daddy is gone, but mommy is home.
Yes, this is what was necessary. Emotionally it was horrible saying goodbye. Realistically, it was the most logical next step towards our new life in FL.
I’ll never forget this day. A pivotal day in the life of the Campbell Family for sure.”
"Today two years ago I left my family in New York and headed to Florida to start a new job. Leaving my family was the hardest thing I did at that time. Leaving Courtney with the three boys to deal with the winter weather and the work that came with our house weighed heavy on me. I tried to make sure she was set up the best I could to help her to deal with me not being home. I would return back home to New York in twenty days for Christmas and eagerly was anticipating it. Returning for Christmas was a wonderful feeling and I prayed that my flight back to New York would run on schedule. Everything worked out and I did make it back home. I did not appreciate being cold, but to be with the family again was wonderful.
Fast forward two years and here I am reflecting on that day and the many days from then to now. I worked at a new job for just over a year before the Lord gave me a door to move in a new direction that would bring me home to be with my family everyday. Leaving my job in corrections seemed like a stretch as I had been doing it for fifteen years. I knew so many people there that it was like second nature.
Then I started a new job with only knowing the friend that hired me and who I would not be seeing on a daily basis. This was a new chapter of learning and not just my new job description, but also learning about myself as well. I learned that I had to work with many different people during the week and not always the same people week to week. I had to manage people and leverage relationships through working with them to meet an end goal. This was much different than managing inmates in a prison.
I was very receptive of this new role in that it took away the monotonous aspect of the prison, but it added a layer of stress to deal with subcontractors, project managers and other foremans. As I reflect on this I am thankful for all that it has taught me. I learned that I would rather be doing the work than managing the people to do the work. God has made me a handy person so I am able to fix things, build things and figure most mechanical things out. I am wired to work with my hands and teach my boys how to do the same. Even if they don’t like working with their hands, I can show them how to be handy.
Where does that leave me now? I am left still learning and applying the knowledge of the stock market everyday. It’s slow, but things are clicking. Just like anyone starting something new you want to be an expert now, but that’s not how life works. I have to take things day by day and realized there will be moments when things don’t work out as planned and that’s okay. One foot in front of the other is how I have been going. At times its downright frustrating and I want to just give up and go get another job because that would be easier.
When you step out to do the work that you believe God called you to do, I have to remember that I am not promised that it will be easy. I am promised that He will be with me and won’t leave me. Knowing that does not make the life of an entrepreneur easy. We must work longer and harder than most people with a job. We may have a little money or a lot of money, no matter how much we have we must be wise stewards of it. As a friend from my old corrections job recently told me “eating a bologna sandwich with your family is better than eating steak while you're mandated at work”. The trials I will face will always come and I must learn to persevere through the trials in order to get where I ultimately want to be as an individual and as a family.
I will close with this thought: If at first you don’t succeed , try, try again. Its when we stop trying to succeed and throw in the towel that we have failed ourselves. We must all take the step forward to get where we want to go and shed the chains that hold us back. At the end of our lives we don’t want to look back thinking, “if only I would have tried (fill in the blank with whatever it is that you want).” Only to realize that we could have made that thing happen if we would not have been scared to do it. Many well known entrepreneurs have failed many times before they get it right. So if they gave themselves the chance to fail and keep going, why can’t we?"