On Monday we sent 18 year old Matthew off to Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes, IL. We had a large gathering on Saturday of family and friends to send him off. It was a great celebration for a great kid.
I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would rise up in me as a result. After having dinner with him Monday night and taking him back to the hotel where all the recruits were staying, he was very somber. I knew he was tired but somber I wasn’t expecting. We texted that night a final good night and then I didn’t hear from him until he landed in Chicago about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The text read, “Just landed in Chicago.” Four hours later he called. “I only have two minutes. I can write whenever I want which I will do. But I can’t call you for another 3 weeks. I have to go.” “Ok, goodbye. I love you son.” “Love you too.” Click.
So final. So cold. It was not the son I knew on the other end of that phone. For almost a year now he’s been excited to go into the Navy. When all his friends started college in August and September, he didn’t have much to do. He picked up more hours at his job at a local restaurant and got involved with the recruiting office activities. In a short while they put him in charge over a group of recruits and then in charge of all 25 of the recruits. He was excited and so was I. His true leadership shining through made me proud. But on the phone he did not sound himself.
I can’t help thinking about what it must be like for him. What bothers me the most is not being able to communicate with him. If it was just text messages I would be fine. But nothing. I’m sure I’ll get letters but they don’t know his address yet so we can’t write. I think about how out of his element he must be and I have no idea how he’s handling all that. And I can’t be there to encourage him. I will once I can write some letters but it stinks not being able to help him through this. All I can do is pray and for now that’s going to have to be enough. And it’s probably enough anyway if I can just get myself out of the way. I mostly pray that his experience doesn’t alter his spirit and that he has peace about his decision.
In a way, I’m grieving again. I’m grieving the temporary absence of my son whose light shines through all of us. I’m missing his love of nature, his love of animals and the outdoors, his fun spirit, and just having him around. And mostly, I’m grieving that his mom wasn’t here to send him off. I know she’s so proud.
The next morning, Tuesday, my 7 a.m. Men’s Group prayed the Morning Prayer from Magnificat magazine. The Psalm for the morning was Psalm 13:
How long, O Lord, will you forget me?
How long will you hide your face?
How long must I bear grief in my soul,
This sorrow in my heart day and night?
How long shall my enemy prevail?
Look at me, answer me, Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes lest I fall asleep in death,
Lest my enemy say:” I have overcome him”:
Lest my foes rejoice to see my fall.
As for me, I trust in your merciful love.
Let my heart rejoice in your saving help:
Let me sing to the Lord for his goodness to me,
Singing psalms to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
God always gives me comfort when I need it! This psalm was handpicked for me. It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time! How does he do that? I woke up that morning and didn’t want to go to the meeting. But I went and he had this psalm ready for my heart and he had my friends there ready to support me. I also know that if he answered my prayer, he’s going to answer the prayers that I’ve been praying for Matthew and the prayers that Matthew is praying about his decision and situation. And that gives me tremendous peace.
Lord God, thank you so much for the gift of your grace in my life and in the lives of those I pray for. And thank you for once again bringing me through your Faith Boot Camp. Amen.