A couple of weeks ago we took your baby sister to the airport to fly off to London to complete the International Careers class she’s been taking this semester at KU. She was so excited. We (your dad and I and big sister) were a little emotional. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled for her to get to experience all that she is going to experience. But the day was filled with so many emotions, so many memories, and a little bit of deja’ vu.
I’ve been preparing myself to “let” her fly off to London with a bunch of people I’ve never met for the past several weeks, but it was still a bit of a shock when she saw a friend of hers and turned to us and said, “Bye!” Ha! I thought we would be waiting for an hour or so with a very nervous youngest daughter, but NO! Just, “Bye!” and off she went. Off, it felt like to us, to really begin her life as an adult. Yes, I know she is 22 and has been “adulting” for quite a while, but not this seriously. It feels serious to me, anyway. I’ve wondered, many times, what you felt like when you went off to boot camp at 19 years old. To your dad and I, you were just a boy. We were a tad bit petrified to let you go; but you were so determined that we had no other choice. You made us proud, son.
One of the things we really missed about your young adulthood was watching you grow from a boy to a man. Seeing you once a year, when you came home on leave, wasn’t enough time for us to really know what you had been experiencing that was making you the person you were each time we saw you – a more grown-up version of yourself. There were a lot of blank spaces in your maturing process that we had to fill in with our own imaginings. Now……….I miss you…………but that is not what I’m writing to you about today.
Your baby sister and her most recent exploits are what I’m catching you up on. Four days in to her trip in London, there was a terrorist attack right where she had been a few hours before. Fortunately, by the time of the attack, she was at the US Embassy, safe and sound. I had about 30 minutes of utter terror, though, waiting to hear from her and know she was ok. It reminds me a little bit of the time you were home on leave when the tsunami hit Japan the day before you were supposed to return to Japan. I knew you were disappointed, but I was ecstatic when the Navy called and told you to stay put until further notice. Your heart to help touched me deeply. But I selfishly wanted you home with us, away from the radiation in the air caused by the damaged nuclear plant.
But I am getting ahead of myself. The morning of the day we took your sister to the airport was a very entertaining morning. She had so much nervous energy, she cleaned the whole basement – she swept the stairs down to the basement, swept the laundry room, cleaned her room (which is normally an all day project), vacuumed the family room, halls and her room, and dusted the family room. I thought it quite delightful watching her scurry around like she’d had too much caffeine! She is very much like you, son – adventurous, quiet, thoughtful and wise – but this was very unlike you. When you had nervous energy, like the morning you left for boot camp, you became very introspective and solemn, looking quite contemplative, like you were working hard at unraveling life’s mysteries.
As your sister was scurrying around cleaning everything that didn’t move, she had me sewing buttons back onto her navy blue wool Pea Coat so she could take it with her in the event the weather was less like spring in London than it is here in KC. So I went in search of my sewing basket, her missing buttons, a needle and some navy blue thread. I found some navy blue thread, but I had this niggling thought in the back of my mind that I had thread that would be better suited for buttons on a coat than the thread I’d found. Then, it hit me……that moment of deja’ vu; the moment when I am no longer in the moment I am actually in, but I have been transported back to a moment I will never forget – a moment that has been emblazoned on my memory like fire burns a permanent scar into a wooden beam – the day I had to sew your rocker onto your dress blues so you would be properly attired for your military funeral.
I have experienced this “out of the moment” phenomenon many times since you left your earthy home with us and moved into your eternal home with our Lord. Oftentimes it is brought on by someone simply mentioning, what seems to them, a harmless word or phrase to describe an ordinary circumstance in daily conversation, such as “car accident” or “funeral” or the worst one “casket”. This happens less and less as time goes by, as I am now aware of it and can handle it better, and much-needed healing seems to be occurring on a daily basis.
And it turns out, that moment of deja’ vu was just that – a moment of deja’ vu. It wasn’t gut-wrenching or devastating or even crushing. It was a powerful memory, and it instantly took me back to that earth shattering moment two and a half years ago. But I didn’t stay there. I acknowledged it, I owned it, I would even say I kissed it hello. But I left it there, and moved on to the happy, excited moment of sewing buttons onto your sister’s coat so she could seek out her own adventures – just like you did.
I realize, as I “tell you” about this, that I want you to be proud of me, as well. I don’t want you to be looking down from heaven at me, seeing me cry my eyes out over sewing a button onto your sister’s coat, like I sewed your rocker onto your uniform. I want you to see strength, endurance and faithfulness; the same stuff I tried to teach you and your siblings to try to have in every circumstance that comes your way.
I miss you more than words can say, my precious son. I am more proud of you than I have words to describe. You were a good son, a good man, someone any mother would be proud to call her own. I’m so thankful for the 25 years God allowed us to have you here with us. And I’m comforted knowing I know where you are now. I will see you again, and what a sweet reunion that will be.
I love you,