Wednesday, August 8, 2012

a year later...

 my son and his girlfriend at Dallas MEPS

Last year at this time I was sitting in a rather surreal place, Dallas MEPS , with my son, his girlfriend and my husband. Well, actually, for most of the time our son was off doing his final processing to leave for Navy boot camp. All around me were young people with stickers on their chests... Army, Air Force, Navy, USMC, even a few with Coast Guard~ all of them set to embark on a life-changing adventure that very day. Dallas MEPS is, of course, huge. There were lots of kids (yes, they sure looked like kids) and family members. But some were alone. That made me sad.

I thought to myself, if the nervous energy in this building could be harnessed, it could power a city.
The future sailors, airmen, marines, soldiers and coasties were at turns joking, laughing and often quiet and obviously a bit fearful and reflective. They were all about to enter a great unknown, a time of trial and then on to different schooling and then off to serve their country. They looked so young.

My son, came out and sat with us from time to time. He was exhausted. The night before he had been in a hotel with a large group of Navy recruits. His recruiter had driven him down mid-afternoon the day before. And that was the first good-bye. We joined him that evening for dinner and then good-bye number 2. Next was the BIG good-bye, the REAL good-bye. I was not looking forward to that.

We watched as his group was called and sworn-in. It was very moving. The room was packed and every parent must have felt the the same sense of pride and sorrow that washed over me.

Finally, after several heart wrenching hours at MEPS, groups began to be called. The young, brave  men and women began to line up. Buses filled the parking lot downstairs. Finally it was our son's turn to stand in that line with his sad little sack of deodorant, toothbrush and phone charger~ and his first set of military orders clutched in his hand. He looked tired and he looked 12 years old. He was 18.

As his group left the building one way, we family members made a stunned, nearly silent exit to the bus area. Huge buses sat running, with doors open like great, hungry jaws set to swallow up our children. So we got our quick hugs. I was strong, no crazy crying, but tears in my eyes and a lump the size of the moon in my throat. The girlfriend, poor thing, fell apart. I understood.♥

And then my son, my sweet, sweet boy stepped onto that huge bus bound for DFW airport and into his future. My heart has never quite repaired the rift. There is a tender place in it that aches for him always.

A year has passed, amazingly, astonishingly!! I saw my son at his PIR (boot camp graduation), at Christmas for 9 wonderful days, and at his Nuclear Field A School graduation in February. We are going to see his graduation from Nuclear Power School in September. You have only to read a bit of this blog to know how much I miss him and how proud I am of him. He strong, brave, smart and independent. He is a 3rd Class Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy studying in what is known to be one of the most challenging programs in U.S. military. He has accomplished so much in one short year. And I have learned to treasure every phone call, text, FB message and rare visit.
Onward and upward my sweet, brave boy!♥