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A year ago today my DH and I drove our youngest son, Patrick, to the recruiter's office for his journey to PI. His ship date was 12/08/2013. Initially, he was to leave 02/2014. However, a spot opened up and the recruiter asked Patrick if he wanted to go ~ he said yes. So, instead of getting the 3 months I expected.. I had 4 days to wrap my head around the idea of him leaving (he received the call the Wednesday before the Sunday he was to go). 

All of a sudden plans I was making for the holidays seemed so insignificant; worrying about where to go for Christmas, the amount of driving that we would have to do, what give to get my mom so that she could later exchange didn't seem as important. My son, the youngest of my three sons, was going to boot camp. 

I thought I was ready; I thought I knew what I needed to know. I thought it would be similar to when I took Jeff and Phillip to college. I was so wrong! That's why I am so grateful to Marine Family Network for getting me through it. Without them giving me the information I would need, I would have been a blubbering mess by the end of the 13 weeks.

Since Patrick would be away during the Christmas holiday, I erringly thought surely I would be allowed to send something special for Christmas. Nope. Just a card ~ in a white envelope ~ was all I could send. I was devastated. I had images of sending cookies for Patrick and his platoon; perhaps wrapped in red cellophane paper? Perhaps in a decorative holiday tin? Very quickly that image crumbled away. But I did find something I could send him...I sent prayers; lots and lots of prayers. In fact, whenever I would think of him, I made it a practice to ask the Good Lord to look after my son, his platoon and the drill instructors. 

The holidays are difficult for the loved ones of boot camp recruits. I totally understand how they feel. In fact, last year we didn't even purchase a Christmas tree. I had left arm bicep/shoulder surgery and was stuck in a sling for four weeks. Whatever decorations I was able to set up prior to my surgery would be it. But more importantly, I just didn't 'feel' a tree would be necessary. Why go through hanging all those hand made ornaments and other ornaments that would bring on a flood of memories then tears?

Since Patrick's graduation at boot camp, I have figured out life goes on. We eat, sleep, go to work, we live. Life doesn't come to a halt during those 13 weeks of boot camp. Life goes on. Just as it continues on after graduation when the new Marines go to their training and schools. Patrick is now down in North Carolina at his 'job'. His journey has just begun. Just as his brother's have discovered, their journey will occasionally intersect with mine. There will be a visit here or there. But their journey's will be very different than my own.  
This year, the tree will go up, the lights, the ornaments, will be placed. Further down, I will find the gap in the ornament trail from the Christmas of 2013. But the memories of that time will be forever in my heart. It was a time when my emotions were filled with up and downs, twists and turns, worries, frustrations, happiness and moments of utter joy. But then again, that's exactly what life is all about. 
A year ago today my life went down a path I was totally unprepared to venture. But as life has proven, from the support of family, friends and some strangers here or there, I learned how to navigate. This uncommon anniversary is not shared by many, but it is certainly an anniversary that many have perhaps without their knowledge have participated; just as happens in the journey of life. 

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Comment by 1~Chickie (Teresita) on January 1, 2015 at 10:04am

You're more than welcome Jaysmom! 

I wish you and yours good health and happiness for 2015! May the journey for your RCT go well. Be at ease....he is safe and doing what he's longed to do. 

Comment by Jaysmom (Becky) on January 1, 2015 at 9:36am

Thank you, Teresita, for sharing your story.  My son is currently in boot camp.  I too thought I would have until February until he left but a spot opened for December 15th and then a couple weeks later my son called me at work to tell me the date changed to December 1st. My world fell apart! I now only had a week and a half to spend with my son. I would miss having him home through Christmas and his birthday at the end of January.  I am seeing that life does go on.  My daughter has had a really busy schedule so that has helped me to focus on moving forward.  After reading your post though, I had an "uh-oh" moment.  I sent Jay a Christmas card in a RED envelope! I had enclosed some stamps and a picture for him in that same card.  Oh well.  Not much I can do about it now I suppose.

I have just recently had the time to really check out this site and I can honestly say that it is a blessing!  Many of the little questions that run through my mind are answered just by reading comments of all the members.  Thank you for taking the time to volunteer!

Happy New Year!!!

Comment by 1~Chickie (Teresita) on December 22, 2014 at 9:15pm

Tneil0416 ~ you're so very welcome. 

Comment by tneil0416 on December 22, 2014 at 8:47pm

Teresita, thank you so much for sharing.  You put my exact feelings into words.  I'm finally realizing after a week of my daughter being gone, that life does go on, but my prayers are with her and her fellow recruits every single day.

Comment by JamesMum on December 8, 2014 at 7:34pm
Teresita, Ralphnv, Dianne - Hear Hear, and Amen. Thanks for keeping in touch, keeping it real. I can't really imagine a year from James' day leaving since life is one-day-at-a-time, but I am very thankful that you're willing & able to share your heart on the matters. I've been finding that true Ralphnv about life (at least) being 'different' (God knows I hope better) when you're personally invested in a Marine.
Comment by 1~alex2toes(Dianne) on December 8, 2014 at 5:50am

Yes, life does go on. The sun rises and sets, people laugh and children play, dogs bark and cats do whatever cats do and this whole crazy symphony of Life is assured by our 1%, our sons and daughters who wear our Country's uniform. Semper Fi 

Comment by Ralphnv on December 7, 2014 at 8:18pm

Teresita,

Yes, my son's shipping date also has insinuated itself as an anniversary in my life, not with fanfare and celebrations, since he still is in service and not here.  But in the hearts of me, his sister, his grandparents aunts and uncles and cousins.

Thanks for your words.  Life does go on, but it always is better with a Marine in heart and mind.

- A grateful son of a Marine and humble father of a Marine

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