On Monday I had the nicest surprise – quite unexpected actually. I had two letters from my son, SR Sweeney (Seaman Recruit), from bootcamp. He should be about completed his two week quarantine- we think – we don’t know for sure. The letters I got from him were written April 1 and one before that. I think his bootcamp training will begin soon but there is also the virus to contend with and there was a case or two at the center so I have no idea how things are progressing there.
I must say I didn’t expect him to write us much at all. I was so doubtful that I sent him with cards and pre-addressed envelopes. I was making it so easy for him to send us a word or two. I had no idea he would be writing us in quarantine – I wasn’t sure what was allowed.
My son’s letters to us were not on the pre-addressed cards I gave him but instead on Navy RTC stationary. I think I marveled at them like he was five and in kindergarten and brought home his first handwriting assignment. He actually wrote a whole letter- no two letters! And yes I am saving every one we get! Just like his those kindergarten assignments. Once a mom always a mom.
His letters were basic really. But he expressed his desire to get going to work. I also could tell the virus situation had finally become real to him. He wanted us to know the Red Cross could get him a message fast if anything serious went down with us here. He had been out once or twice to get some medical checks. He got glasses. He’s making some friends. For that I was glad as he is shy. The food was not great. I found out from my Facebook group that they are getting bagged food until they mainstream.
He updated me on some business items they had gone over with him once he was there. He asked that we write him back. He said he didn’t know what was going on in the outside world. I struggle with how much to share with him. I know it won’t be anything that I feel would stress him while he is in bootcamp.
But the kicker for me were these words:I miss you both so much…I love you both so much… Definitely not words I would expect from my son. He is shy. He holds back feelings. And those words are what broke me open…tears flowed. It felt so nice to read the words but also they made me worry about him a little more too.
I know it will be ok. Well I pray it will be. I know he’s in a bit of a shock now. If he is homesick it should pass- especially after he gets going in bootcamp. He won’t have as much time to think. He will be exhausted by the end of each day. He will wish he was in quarantine again- I am told.
Letters are like gold. They connect us when we don’t have the luxury of text or email. Oh how I miss those at your fingers tools! But the separation is needed. It takes that civilian and makes them into a soldier -part of unit. United together for one cause. I get it but I hate the silence.
I am not a true Navy parent yet. We are just at the beginning. But I already know this worry about your child is not the same as leaving them at two-week camp in the summer or dropping them off at college. This is something that is bigger…and I don’t mean to downplay those other worries. I have been through those too, so I speak only from how I am feeling now compared to those other times that we let the thread that ties us together out longer than it had been before. It was scary and exciting and hopeful. That worry ebbed a bit as time wore on. But now this thread will be a long unending spool let out further and further. It is so much bigger – this worry- than what I have felt before. Parenthood is the never-ending roller coaster ride of emotion.
I am sensing that this worry is like a knot that lodges itself somewhere inside. Because this is only the beginning. There will be deployments to far away lands. Missions we won’t know about in detail but know they exist in theory. We won’t ever feel he is truly safe unless he is real standing in front of us – and when he is near us it is only for a short time and there will be a parting again…and the worry cycle continues. I am not there yet but I have a sense that this worry is a different beast. I am very unsettled.
And the letters come and there is an exhale…not a release of all the worry but some. They are a gift. Something I didn’t know I would cherish until they sat in front of me waiting to be opened.
I have written my letters to him as has his dad but they have to wait until we are given his correct division information. He won’t get letters addressed to the quarantine area which I am told by thanks to the Training Center Facebook group admins is the address he gave me. So as the Navy motto reminds us – I will hurry up and wait for his division info to get to us. And I hope the letters that he eventually gets from us give him some peace- and he feels the love behind them.
I had forgotten the special feel of a real letter. We have so much connectivity available all the time but when you don’t have it – the letter for me is a lifeline. I hope I get more from him- but knowing the rigors of their schedule when doing actual P days ( processing days – first week of real bootcamp where they process the recruit) I won’t get my hopes up. But if I do I will appreciate the lift of some of the worry – that exhale -even if it lasts only for a little while.