A year ago this month, my oldest son, age 18, was safely tucked away at college, enjoying a full scholarship and a short one hour drive home. Perhaps I should say, *I* was enjoying those things. He wasn’t. As the semester progressed and he never talked about school, I had this nagging feeling…my Mommy Antennae were twitching.
Sure enough, just before Thanksgiving we had a 2am phone call. Groggy, I heard my son announce, “Guess what, Mom?! I’m going to be an Airborne Ranger!” The enlistment process had been completed weeks before. It was a done deal. This was followed by a restless night of husband and I pacing the living room floor in our bathrobes, drinking tea, and crying. After that, there was nothing to do except love and support him.
It was a bittersweet Thanksgiving last year. We had him home till New Year’s and soaked up every moment and he seemed to do the same. I became a regular at the www.goarmyparents.forum where I read and cried with other parents and learned much about Army terminology and what to expect. The final days with him were full of tension and conflict, as we all tried to deal with this new weaning. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And then at last the final rainy night, saying goodbye in the airport hotel lobby. I was five months pregnant with his newest little brother. All the siblings hugged him. The 12-yo brother cried. I’ll never forget the feeling of my arms around his wiry waist and my head on his chest. He was wearing his blue fleece jacket. I fled to the car. Dad stayed inside and watched him walk to his room. What a helpless feeling — like he was being pulled out to sea by the tide of people wearing ACUs.
Son reached is goal and is now serving in Afghanistan. What a year it’s been.