I don’t have any experience with family members joining the military and everything it involves. Well, I guess I should say I didn’t, because I sure do now.
I drove three hours up to Montgomery to watch my son swear in for the last time and to spend his last hour with him before he boarded the shuttle and headed off to Basic Training. Let me tell you, it’s nothing like you imagine or see on TV.
The swearing in was neat. It lasted about six minutes. Then, we were told that family members should go to the family waiting room, and the recruits go to the recruit’s waiting room.
The two rooms were right next to each other, but separated by a glass wall. We could see each other, but couldn’t talk to each other.
I sat there, anxious to talk to him. My nerves were shot. There was a young father in the room with me. He had a toddler and a baby that he was juggling while trying to keep the toddler from running out of the room and throwing a tantrum.
I sat there watching and was on the verge of asking him if he needed a little help when one of the recruits walked in. If I had to guess her age, I’d say she was about twenty years old.
The toddler called out for his mommy, and she scooped him up and hugged him tightly while tears flowed down her cheeks, wetting his blonde hair. My throat clogged with emotion as I watched her take her baby from the father to give one last cuddle to. I had to walk away for a moment so that my son didn’t see me wipe the tears from my eyes.
We sat that way for almost two hours.
Then, his group was called to the front desk.
I tried to smile as he walked by. I could see how nervous he was and couldn’t wait to give him a hug and tell him how proud of him I was and how much I love him.
Thirty seconds later, they walked out the door.
By the time I turned in my visitor’s badge and raced out the door, their shuttle was exiting the parking lot.
The tears flowed.
I was devastated. I would have been okay had I been able to give him that one last hug. One last ‘I love you’. One last, ‘Be strong. I’m proud of you.’
But, instead, I had driven three hours to stare at him through a window for hours.
I know he knows how much I love him, but I wanted those to be the last words he heard before he boarded the shuttle.
As a mother, one of the hardest things to go through is actually letting your child go.
This is a new exciting chapter in his life and I am thrilled for him. Knowing that if he needs to talk or needs to vent, or just needs to hear a familiar voice, I am not available to be there for him kills me.
I know the reason why it is this way, and I completely understand it. That doesn’t make it any easier. So, until communication is under way, there is nothing to do but sit and worry. You have to carry on and be strong. You have to find support from those who understand what it is you’re going through.
So yes, my child left and I didn’t get to say goodbye. It broke my heart.