She’ll be home soon!!!
In the last 9 years that has been a statement eagerly, ecstatically, repeated again and again in regard to our Eldest. And whether she’s traveling home from across the world or just across a few states, it’s said with the same sense of excitement, and at least for me, relief. I don’t even realize that I am holding my breath for months at a time until that moment when she walks through our front door and I exhale…
It started when we moved 18 year old Vivi from her never-ever clean bedroom down the hall from ours to her new apartment in Georgia where she would start College. I’m pretty sure I cried at least 700 of the 850 mile drive back home. After about a week, I cleaned her room and hated it every day until we sold that house. It was clean, its cleanliness felt weird and she wasn’t in it. The three months between driving away as she beamed with independence, waving to us from the balcony of her apartment complex, and picking her up from the airport when we flew her home for Thanksgiving felt like an eternity.
She joined the US Navy when she was 20, and even though I had 6 months to get used to the idea of her leaving before she actually left I did not use that time wisely. I shoved it to the back of my brain, and pulled a Scarlett O’Hara by repeatedly telling myself “I won’t worry ’bout that Tuhday, I’ll worry ’bout that Tumahrah…” And then on the morning of Sunday, July 25th 2005, Tumahrah slapped me on the back of the head and screamed in my ear “SHE’S LEAVING TODAY STUPID, TELL HER EVERYTHING YOU HAVE PUT OFF SAYING TO HER BEFORE SHE GETS ON THAT BUS!!! TELL HER HOW MUCH YOU LOVE HER!!!!” In the end I just hugged her as hard as I could, trusted that she knew all the things I couldn’t say and tried really hard not to cry in front of her, because she was fighting Demons of her own…I’m pretty sure I made it to the car before I let the tears out.
I was so proud of her for taking the leap she was taking. I did what I could to make her feel less alone at Boot Camp, I put the first letter to her in the mail the day before she boarded that bus for Great Lakes Illinois, and a new one was sent every few days for 8 weeks. Because that’s what Mom’s do, we bury our own pain to make our Kids feel less of theirs….
She left Illinois for Maryland just a few days after graduating from Boot Camp. We moved to South Dakota which made the distance between us even greater but she was still in the States, going to school. Not unreachable. Safe. She was adjusting to Military life and to being totally on her own, you could hear it in her voice, see it in her demeanor. I was proud…She got her first Orders soon after finishing her DINFOS (Defense Information School) training–2 years at a Naval Air Station in Sicily. (which ended up being 3 when she extended her Orders for an additional year) Not a war zone, not on a ship in the Gulf…Thank God. We got to have her home for a couple of weeks before she left the country, and I hugged her about 2000 times, told her I loved her around 4000. And tried really hard not to cry when she left for the airport. Failed. Miserably….
That’s the way it was for the next 3 years. She came home once, I went over there to see her once. Always elated, overjoyed to see her, always unsuccessfully fighting back tears when it was time to say Goodbye. Always worrying if she was ok, living for my Sunday afternoon phone calls.
My God, the day she stepped out of her Dad’s truck in our driveway after her Navy contract was up I felt such an overwhelming sense of joy. She was home!! Really and truly home at last, sleeping under my roof, laughing with me as we watched TV, yelling with her Dad during football games. Home. And I cried, because she was home, because she was safe and sound, because for 4 years I had never stopped worrying. Never got used to her not being around….
Vivi now lives happily in Washington State with Captain America, busily planning their wedding and their future. I know she is safe with Dan and his Police training, Martial Arts training and “pointy sticks of destruction” combined with his overprotective nature (my favorite quality in him!). I no longer worry about whether or not she’s ok, I know she is so much more than OK, she’s happy, settled, content….
I still get that giddy feeling when I know she is coming home for a visit, still cry a bit when she leaves. And I will always hug her as tight as I can, tell her how much I love her, because she’s only home for a little while…