“We’ve decided to go to West Point.”
Drenched, I looked up, wiping water from my eyes. Tears or the wet from the upstairs shower leak now pouring out of my kitchen ceiling fan? Hard to know, but it meant watery eyes, nonetheless. I remember looking down at my hand, hanging onto my kitchen counter as my brain tried to process and catch up. Did he just say that they were going to West Point?
I felt my breath catch, and I immediately slipped into actor mode. Play the part and process later. I swooped across the kitchen floor and wrapped my arms around his tall, muscular frame and buried my face into his chest. How did we get here? Wasn’t I just wiping dirt off his face and kissing boo-boos a second ago? How is he this big? How has he grown into a man? How in the world did they decide to join the Army? We had taken them on college tours all across the country, making sure that they saw all the possibility, all the opportunity so that they could make an informed decision, a good decision, the right decision for their futures.
So Proud of You
“I am so proud of you, buddy…. So proud. Are you sure that this is what you want?”
Is this what I want? We had just left it all behind us. Jamie retired three years ago, and we let it go. All the days, months, years apart, the uniforms and boots, the constant unknowns. I had worked to put it all behind us. To write the end of that chapter and start a new one, one that didn’t involve so much sacrifice, and now here we are. Right back where we started, only this time, it was my twin sons raising their right hands and joining the Long Grey Line, the Army. My heartbeats. My loves.
The twin boys who were my constant through every one of the five deployments, the ones who were the reason that I got out of bed some days. The boys who moved for the first time at ten days old and moved ten more times after that. These boys who were forced to grow up fast and adapt, change, pivot. Boys who packed the van with me, off on another trip, another visit, another move. They put their sisters to bed at night while I did the dishes. They wrote letters to their dad and crossed off dates on our Daddy Deployment calendar. They hugged my neck when I couldn’t hold the tears back anymore. They made me visit more principals’ offices than I care to admit. They made me laugh and laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. They ran and jumped, and I ran and jumped right along with them in gyms and on baseball fields all across America. These boys were mine, and I didn’t want to give them to Uncle Sam. Hadn’t we already given enough?"The military is a family business. There is a legacy of service passed down through military families, and apparently mine would be no exception." @iwillwaitvsp Click To Tweet
A Family Business
30% of the Army’s ranks are filled each year with children of service members. Regardless of current politics, presidents or wars, those numbers don’t change. The military is a family business. There is a legacy of service passed down through military families, and apparently mine would be no exception. Watching water pour out of my ceiling and flood my kitchen, all I could do in that moment was hug him tighter and remind myself that I knew how to do this and so did they. This is their time to write their own chapter to the story, and I would be here waiting for them- to cheer them on, brush them off, put them back together, and remind them that this country, no matter how broken and flawed, is still worth a fight.
Do I wish that my two kids weren’t doing the fighting? I do. I can’t help it. But do I stand in awe of their bravery for following a legacy of service after their dad? I do that too. Bitter and Sweet. So I will do my part. I will hold them close and then send them off. Praying once again, and over and over, that America will do its part and continue to be worthy of their sacrifice.