Yesterday while I was on the phone talking to my brother, Andy, my landlord, Mike, dropped off the mail and I paid him the rent. There was a letter addressed to me, written in pencil, and the return address was Alex!!!
I tore it open, and it was a form letter from the Navy, but it started out with Dear_____, and Alex wrote "Mom". The letter explained that recruits will not be able to receive packages during this time, that food should not be sent to recruits, that they are not allowed to leave unless an immediate family member dies, etc. Cards and letters are encouraged to be sent.
On the last page to the bottom, Alex was allowed to write in the 3 lines available in the "Recruit's Comments" section. He wrote:
"Mom, things are going well. My stuff I wore home should be getting there soon. Please check for my driver's license. Need it in a bad way. Don't know when I'll get to call. Depends on how things go. Talk to you soon. Love, Al..."
If anyone would like to write to him, family, friends, or just those who would like to give my son some support by sending him a card to encourage him, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you his address.
I feel much better now that I've heard something.
I need to get busy, or this is going to be a loooonnnng nine weeks!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
It's been a week since he left. The picture above is the cake I ordered for his going away party which was June 14, 2008. The picture doesn't do it justice. It was a magnificent piece of work. I was grateful it turned out so well. I cried in the bakery department of Cub Foods, the day of his party because it was now real. Then I went back to my favorite coping mechanism.
Yes, I've been playing that game this week.
My one and only child, my son, left home a week ago for boot camp. As I've mentioned previously, my son enlisted in the Navy. He left on June 19, 2008, for boot camp. I took two days off to "mourn" his departure.
I just repressed it.
Enter a distraction to keep me occupied this weekend. We went to the "Back to the 50's" Car Show at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. That repressed it even more for me. I thought, "Hey, I'm doing pretty good!" Until...
The package arrived yesterday afternoon. I thought it was for QH, but it wasn't. I recognized the handwriting on the box immediately. It was Alex's handwriting. Oh, Joy! Some word, finally, of my son! I opened it as fast as I could. Here were the contents:
1 pair of white tennis shoes,
1 pair of blue jeans,
1 under shirt,
1 pair of boxers,
1 pair of socks,
1 Minnesota Driver's License, stuffed into one of the tennis shoes,
1 ballpoint ink pen from the Marriott,
Several scraps of paper, stuffed into the other shoe,
1 airline ticket stub from American Airlines, and finally,
1 black T-shirt that reads, "Just Do It" on the front in white letters.
I laughed because I had just finished his laundry! I then pictured my son, standing in his military issue skivvies putting his clothes in the box thinking, "Mom's really going to love getting this!"
It took me a while, but I finally realized, they were sending the last remants of my son as a civilian. This part of his life is over, for now, and a new one is beginning. It's symbolic and painful at the same time. We go through the usual milestones in life, but this is a new one for me, sending your son off to become a sailor, a military man.
I know that the young man who left wearing the clothes in that box, will not be the same young man when he returns home. It breaks my heart, it really does.
But I also realized, I won't be the same person either. I hope to be a better person when my son returns.
Everything is different now. It was reality hitting me in the face. And that's when the meltdown began.
I'm not sure who I was kidding.
I guess I thought if I was super strong and didn't show it on the outside that this is what was going on in the inside, then I could sail through the remaining 9 weeks before he comes home.
So, here I am trying to be brave. Trying to keep my emotions in check and trying to get my own stuff together. I have to cry, I have to let it out, and I have to let him go to become the man he is to be, no matter how painful it is.
We raise our children to become their own people, to live their own lives, and to be self-sufficient. But we have to allow ourselves to grieve for that chapter that closes in our lives, and embrace and celebrate the new chapter opening.
He called and left a message on my answering machine that he made it to boot camp okay, and he would call in 2 weeks. One week to go. I now understand the meaning of the AA slogan: Take it one day at a time.
I will take it one day at a time.
I will write to my son and as soon as I have an update or an address, and I will update all of you. I will pray he stays safe.
I will pray he excels (as I know he will) and makes it through boot camp and finds the strength he never knew he had within himself.
I pray that for me and QH, too.
Now I have to wipe the tears away and get on with my day. I have a lot to do before my son comes home.
I hope he's as proud of me as I am of him.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
"It's never too late to become the person you might have been."
Thirty-nine years ago today (June 11, 1969) at 11:55 p.m., I arrived at North Memorial Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I can't believe I'm this old, and parts of me feel a lot older. LOL! But, I'm 39 and... hoping.
You read that correctly, H-O-P-I-N-G. I still have hope. I don't want to be 39 and HOLDING, that implies desperation, and I may have felt that way a few times today, I realize that's not the energy I want to put out into the world and have come back to me.
I Hope for the next year to come, that I will live to see the BIG 4-0.
I Hope that I will be working from home as a true, honest to God, income producing freelance writer and copywriter full time.
I Hope that I will be teaching and holding seminars, and workshops and sharing my love and passion of the written word to those who may be a little scared to make that leap.
I Hope QH and I can retire.
I Hope my son is successful in advancing in his career in the Navy.
I Hope to accomplish a few more goals on my list, both creatively, professionally, personally and financially.
I Hope that all of my family members and friends are still healthy and happy in their lives and if they aren't happy, I hope they find that path yesterday.
I Hope that we will be a better world, that people will treat each other with kindness.
As far as birthdays go, I had a rough start to my day. Thunderstorms rocked through the area all day. Lightning, thunder, dark clouds, torrential rain, and high winds are not weather that seems to induce any kind of positive reflection. I found myself wanting to go back to bed (which I did), and hide under the covers for a bit. But, I couldn't stay in bed all day, I have a lot of work to do.
I am up to my eyelashes in work to get my house, the garage and the yard in shape for this weekend. I'm throwing a party for my son before he leaves for boot camp on June 19th. I'm hoping all the bad weather is done now and that it will be sunny to partly cloudy on Saturday. Please pray. Thank you.
Today was also my babysitting day, and my nephew, Cannon, who is 2 years old, was over at my house. Usually he is pretty good, but today he was in all of his 2 year old glory. He might have picked up my stressed out vibe and decided to capitalize on it. Who knows.
He wanted me to hold him, then he was getting into the cupboards, then he was following me into the bathroom, then he was trying to sweep and almost breaking everything around him, so I gave him a "rag" and he started "cleaning" stuff. That seemed to work until lunch when I made him spaghetti and he ended up with more on his head and clothes than in his mouth. Bath time!!
I had to take him to my Mom's house because I had today off from work (thank you, thank you, thank you), and I lost 2 hours running from my house to her house, stopping by Walmart really quick and then getting back to the house to try and finish up what I was working on. Since Mom and I work at the same place, we usually play "Pass the baby" at work and Cannon goes home with her.
When I finally arrived back home, I was washing the dishes, and when the water started to drain out, I heard this louder than usual gushing sound coming from under the sink. The pipe had unscrewed itself from under the drain and the water was pouring out into a bucket underneath. The water collected mostly in the bucket, but some of it ended up on my freshly mopped floor. GRRRR!!!
Oh, and it was about 5:15 pm and I was expected to go over to my MIL's house for taco dinner for my birthday...at 5:30 pm. Great.
How's that song go? "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all?"
I wanted to feel sorry for myself.
I really did.
I did have a mental moment when I just cried because it seemed all I was doing was spinning my wheels.
Earlier today, my brother called to wish me a Happy Birthday, and I felt really awful when I was whining to him on the phone. I almost broke down because he and his lovely wife, Lisa, live in Oklahoma, and they aren't able to visit before Alex leaves. I tried not to let my voice shake too much, because he had also called with good news. He has been working his butt off for the last few months to get into school to become a respiratory therapist and he MADE IT!! I am so proud of him, and I realized just how much I really miss my brother. I put the phone down and let the tears go. Enough is enough.
In the end, I can't really feel sorry for myself.
All the things that happened today were "little things". Nothing more than annoyances. Nothing about them was life threatening (ok, the weather had the potential to be dangerous).
I was watching Oprah last night(it was a repeat) and they had Randy Pausch, the author of "The Last Lecture". Randy has a great career, has a beautiful wife and 3 beautiful children under the age of 5 and he's dying of pancreatic cancer. He wrote the "Last Lecture" as part of a class he teaches at Carnegie Mellon University. The lecture is based on the hypothetical situation that if you know you are going to die, what wisdom would you impart to your students or the world at large. Only in his case, it's reality.
One of the most profound things he said was, "You have a choice to be a Tigger or an Eeyore. It's up to you how you decide, how you choose to go through life." (I'm paraphrasing, if you want to check out the whole lecture, I believe it's on the Oprah.com website.
After watching that, and listening to what he said, I realized I have nothing to bitch about. This last few weeks has brought lots of bad news about my family and friends.
Firs, my uncle Jim, who lives in North Dakota, suffered a heart attack a few days ago, and had to have surgery. I have him and his family in my prayers. I was told he is home tonight.
I also have a dear friend who is battling Hodgkins Disease. She went today to have surgery to prep her for chemo. You know her, she's been a frequent visitor here. She is Sandy Lender, author of the Choices Meant for Gods trilogy. The second installment is on its way to be printed at the publisher, and she gets the news that she has this lymphoma in her lungs. No, she doesn't smoke, she eats as healthy as she can, and she is optimistic that she will be "over this in a couple of months." This was quite a shock, since she is a year YOUNGER than me. Talk about a wake up call.
So, as I sit here in the dark, almost 2 hours into being 39 years old, I have to say I am very truly blessed. I can't complain but I do, I'm human and I have my tantrums. I have my "the world should revolve around me moments," but I KNOW, there are people close to me, and some I don't know, who are going through a hell of a lot more than I am. Shut up and be thankful. Count your blessings and figure out what you're going to accomplish before your next birthday, you whiny baby!!
The quote at the top is a new one. I have it taped to my computer monitor where I can glance up and read it when I feel like giving up. I got it from one of my writing groups in Yahoo, called the Creative Mindset. One of the members quoted it during a teleseminar.
I love it. It will set the pace for me in the next 12 months.
In the meantime, for those who wished me a Happy Birthday and I was less than chipper, my sincerest apologies. I was not trying to be ungrateful. I truly appreciate those who remembered, even though I wanted to forget.
I would also like to thank my mother. She's always told me the story about the day I was born, police escort and all, every year on my birthday. She called me tonight to tell me she was having labor pains! LOL! I told her she should call her doctor right away. There might be a problem there!
I realized I'm thankful she is still here to call me and tell me that story, and that she still remembers it. Most people I know have lost their parents, or if they are still living, their memories or their health is fading. Both my folks are alive and kicking, and while they may drive me nuts sometimes, I'm still grateful I have them both.
Now, where's that cake???