It’s a short distance from the recruiters office to our house but the silence heading home made it feel as if it was twice as long of a trip. We are now five days out and reality is settling in.

Sergeant Hall stood before four families and spoke in detail as to what to expect over the next few days and weeks while our boys are at boot camp. He was thorough and answered all questions with kindness and I appreciated his desire to prepare us. However, his details and tips left my imagination wander as it pleased and my brain began playing games with my heart. The next thirteen weeks? I cannot fathom what Tristan will endure. As a mother, as MY sons mother, the recruiters words were daunting because I know they will soon be a reality. I had known boot camp was one of the hardest endeavors EVER, but sitting and listening to our sons Marine recruiter share honestly and openly as to what to prepare for left a very large lump in my throat that only crying freed.

Sober. 

My Grandfather served in the Navy and my Uncle Dick, the Army. Outside of that, we have no military experience as a family except we proudly stand, we honor, we show respect and more times than not, my husband pays for an enlisted service man or woman’s meal. Our reality is pushing us far beyond prepping for summer camp and college. Those are both HARD things but this is going to be a new way living life for us all and that realization is sinking deep within my soul and I find myself grasping for something known in a world of unknowns and my hands fumble.

Sober.

Maybe it’s all just a little real because our oldest daughter also enlisted (just six days ago) and will serve in the Navy. She ships off to boot camp FIVE days after our sons graduates from his. My children are giving my heart a run for its money because we will endure twenty-two weeks of back-to-back boot camps and from there…well, I’ll think about that another time.

And maybe it’s because I haven’t slept well over the last week because I’ve allowed my brain and my heart to wonder and worry over details and tips I have no clue of and maybe, just maybe it’s because just days ago I had the honor of shaking the hand of Marine Sergeant Zachary Stinson who is a hometown hero that served our country in Afghanistan in 2010. Google him please if you want to know what honor and integrity look like. That hand shake drove it home fast and hard. This is all increasingly real because men like Zach are real. They are not just actors in some movie. They are someone’s son and at one time he showed up for boot camp, willing and ready to serve like the rest.

Just like his younger brother is now…with my son.

Sober. 

I realize the lump in my throat that only crying frees has been the same lump I’ve had when I rise to my feet and summon my heart to stand at attention before our great flag and the men and women who represent it. It’s the realization that many have paid the tab for me and have never forwarded me the bill and for that, I’m indebted. It is sobering knowing they showed up scared but brave and gave their all and here I sit, in my house, seemingly unaffected with relatively no clue of the cost. But today I realize the cost, even if in minuscule ways. Maybe all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and loved ones understand the cost a bit more as they prepare to say good-bye…I know I do and I haven’t even begun to cross the threshold that most have.

My sobriety brings with it a large range of emotions and I know that’s ok. I am letting them come and go and I tarry on. I am proud most minutes, but I would be the world’s biggest liar if I said I haven’t been found in the kitchen crying over small things because the big things feel too great to bear. It’s loves great weight and it’s heavy. Period. Sobriety brings with it the knowledge that though love is heavy and hard, it also bears ALL things, believes ALL things, hopes ALL things, and endures ALL thing. It is where I choose to live from. Everything we encounter in life…every person and every situation is an opportunity to be both a teacher and student…learning WHO love is, being WHO love is and the great thing is, we don’t necessarily GET TO CHOOSE which we will be. Teacher or Student? We become what is needed.

Sober.

My great commisssion is this: Live and love today, as fully and purposefully as you can. Letting go in life is continual and I don’t believe it ever gets easy. If there is anything I could tell young mama’s in the thick of raising up littles, it is this: Don’t waste your time away wishing they’d grow up so you can have some semblence of the life you knew before kids back. Being a parent is one of the greatest gifts God has given so pour into your kids when they are small and then step back as they grow, mature and independently think and act. Give them room to become WHO they were created to be. Give them freedom to make mistakes and victoriously march ahead and cheer them on as loud as you can during BOTH with every ounce of LOVE in you.

Becuase there is so much love in you and leting go is what we’re to do.

Love covers all, this I will hold onto and you should too no matter what stage of life you are in. Love will cover my son and his friends. Love will remain with me and go with them and will teach us ALL in between our time together how to let go, stand back proud and cheer loud, FOR one another.

It is what Love does. Love abides in us, for us, through us TO them. It’s the great circle of life and I choose gratitude in each and every season.