Category Archives: Becoming a Marine

Close To My Heart

Yesterday my mom called to tell me a friend had stopped by her church after the service. She had left a gift for me.

Such a beautiful, thoughtful gift. One that I will treasure, just as I do each and every comment left here on my blog and every email sent with words of encouragement.

I just need for each of you to know how much your support means to me and my family.

Thank you.

The Phone Call

Yesterday I booked our hotel room for Andrew’s boot camp graduation at the end of July. I was able to get a really nice hotel within walking distance of Old Town, San Diego and very close to MCRD. I made reservations for the entire week so that we could relax and enjoy ourselves before The Big Day. Having the room booked made the whole “My son is going to be a Marine” thing feel very real.

***

This morning I stopped by my parents house to pick up my niece. While I was there, her mailman came by. My dad started looking through the mail. “We got a letter from Andrew!” He shouted. I almost snatched it out of his hand as if it was mine. “No way!” He said. “This is our letter.” (He was joking, but also, he was serious.) My mom opened the letter and read it. it was a positive letter, he sounded upbeat and excited that he only has two months of boot camp left.

***

This afternoon I was on a work call. I heard the family beep informing me there was a caller coming through on the other line. I looked at the number and didn’t recognize it. My gut said “answer it anyway.” But I didn’t. An hour later, I was on the phone taking care of some family business and the same number called again. I interrupted the person who was talking. “I need to grab this call, I think it may be important.” I clicked over, but there was no one there. I switched back to the call I was on, and then my home phone began to ring. “Hold on! I’ll call you back!” I threw my cell phone on the sofa and answered my home phone.

“Hello?”

Nothing.

“Hello!?”

“Is this Yvonne?” The person said.

“Yes. This is Yvonne. How can I help you?”

“It’s me, Andrew.”

My heart dropped. One thing people always tell you when your son is away at boot camp is “No news is good news.” And because my son was calling me from boot camp, I knew this was not going to be good news.

“I’ve hurt myself and they’re dropping me from the Kilo Company. I will not be moving on to phase two training with my platoon. My graduation will be delayed at least one week, but probably more.”

Gut. Punch.

“How did you hurt yourself? Are you okay?”

“I cut my hand and needed 8 stitches. I have to let it heal before I can continue with my training. I will call you to notify you of my new graduation date.”

“Son, I love you, I’m sorry this happened, but you will be okay. I love you so much.”

“Okay.” He responded.

His drill instructor was standing right there. He couldn’t say I love you back. And that sucked, but that’s life.

****

I heard the mail truck arrive just minutes after I hung up with Andrew. I ran out to check it, just like I do every day. There were two letters there from my son. I opened them up and began to read. These letters were both very upbeat, very positive. He spoke of all of the friends he’s made. He spoke of how his platoon is finally working together and doing well. (They placed 2nd in initial drill even though everyone expected them to come in last.) Finally, he expressed his excitement to finally be moving into phase two of training.

I couldn’t fight back the tears when I read that, because I now know he won’t be moving on to phase two training with his platoon.

I wish that this had not happened and that he was moving on with his platoon. But it did happen and there’s nothing I can do to help him.

I sat down on the sofa, looked out the window and told myself this was meant to be… everything will be okay.

And then, I ate six cookies.

One of These Days I Will Write About Something Else. Maybe. But Probably Not.

I was in San Diego this past weekend for Ethan’s basketball tournament. Gabby and Tony stayed behind because of his work schedule and her hatred for sitting through basketball games.

Tony called me while I was there to let me know that we had received a letter from Andrew. I was disappointed I wasn’t there to read it with my own eyes, but was thrilled to finally hear from him.

My husband read the letter to me over the phone. He opened up about how he was feeling emotionally. That was tough to hear, but he knew things weren’t going to be easy when he signed up for this. He also informed me that he’s still sick, although he never mentioned what kind if sickness he’s experiencing. In less than a month, he’s already lost fifteen pounds. That is shocking to me, considering he was not overweight to begin with.

I will continue to write to him every single day for the remaining 59 days because I need for my son to know every single day that we are thinking of him, that we miss him, but mostly that we are proud of him and that we love him.

I put this picture in the mail for him today. I hope it makes him smile.

Writing. Waiting. Hoping.

I want to write every single day, but all I want to write about is how much I miss my son. No one wants to read about how much I miss my son every single day.

When I received two letters from him earlier in the month, it was like opening the most amazing gift on Christmas morning. Even though I was sad and I missed him, I had his handwritten letters that I could read and know that he’s okay.

I have accepted the fact that I won’t be able to hear his voice, but I still need to know how he’s doing. I want to know how he’s holding up to the intense training. I want to know if he had his wisdom teeth pulled. I want to know if he has pneumonia like several other recruits in his platoon. I want to know that he’s getting through this and hopefully, that he’s thriving.

But the last time I received a letter from my son was on May 14th. Every day I wait for the mail. I think I hear the mail truck and I go running to the window to see if it’s there. My heart starts pounding. Surely, there’s a letter today. But for the past eleven days, there hasn’t been a letter.

So, I read the two that I have, over and over and over again.

“I miss you a lot. I didn’t think that I would, but I do.” He wrote. “I hope I hear from you soon.”

He didn’t know at the time he wrote that letter that I had started writing and sending letters to him daily. And I’ve been writing every day since.

But I’ve heard nothing from him in return.

The silence is hurting my heart.

“Hopefully today” is what I say every morning when I wake up.

Hopefully today.

Letters From Our Recruit

Our son has been gone for two weeks. For two weeks, I’ve not heard his voice, or his laughter. There has been no sound of sweet music coming from his bedroom. No hugs, no arguments, no text messages.

The only thing we have are his handwritten letters. They are comforting, they are heartbreaking, they are the greatest joy of my life right now. I’ve only received two so far, but I read them over and over again. Even though he’s going through an intense, difficult experience, he’s managing to keep his sense of humor. I find comfort in that.

He’s not yet received our letters and that hurts my heart a bit. He desperately wants to hear from us. I hope our letters arrive sometime this week.

We’ve written so many letters.

Because that’s all we can do. Write. Wait. Read. Write again.

Hurry up, July 27th.