Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Good Bye, Son

St. Peter, Piers' Patron
(Monday, the 9th) I have spent most of the day not thinking.  I did many last minute errands for my son, not thinking about it.  I talked to my mother on the phone about nothing, not thinking about it.  I thought about all the things I was upset about, or stressed about, or wanted to do that I couldn't right now, not thinking about it.

I am sitting here eating chocolate chip cookies and drinking milk and it is finally hitting me. My son, Piers, is gone.  Tomorrow, he'll be in San Antonio, Texas, Lackland Air Force Base to be specific.  My son aspires to be an Air Force Para rescue airman. I know he can do well.  I know his guardian angel and his patron saint (St. Peter himself) and his confirmation saint (St. Ignatius) will be around him and protect him.  I'll be praying a Rosary everyday of basic training for his well being.

St. Ignatius, his confirmation Patron
I think about that tiny red-headed baby.  That baby was early.  His skin was a little yellow, so we had to lay him in the sun. We put a mattress in our living room, within the semi-circle of the bay windows/doors.  He would roll around, coo, and nap on that mattress.  Soon, his pale skin became rosy and beautiful.  He was one of the most beautiful babies in the world.  His only equal: his 20 month old brother with the milk chocolate hair and huge black eyes (they were actually brown but so dark they almost looked black). The two boys were fast friends. His older brother tried to share his favorite snack: Cracklin' Oat Bran. Yes, I fished that out of the baby's mouth real quick.

St. Walburga, mom's patroness

Those two were thick as thieves after that.  Piers taught his older brother how to fill those terrible empty spaces on the walls with crayon modern art.  He also showed him how the crayons fit in the VCR and the grate under the fire place.  Unfortunately, he also tested his poor brother's patience. Only parents of a biter understand what I mean when I say, he was a biter.  There is no sound like the blood curdling scream of a toddler being bitten in the middle of his back by his baby brother.  I knew that pain.  There was many an occasion that my baby son bit me during feeding.  It always came as a surprise, and always painful.  He'd wait until I was lulled into a false sense of security and wham! he'd bite me again.  Unfortunately, he bit his older brother quite a few times, but his brother never bit him back or hit him in revenge.

(written the morning he left March 10th) As he grew, his bubbly, fun, friendly personality came through.  Oh, yes, he did have the "red head temper" but it was usually a flash and then gone.  He was a respectful and fun kid. The homeschool family that we lived near lost out. He so, so much desired to be the friend of their daughter of the same age.  At 7, 8, 9, he wanted friends besides his brothers and sister.  How do you explain other people's eccentricities about with whom their children will play and study.  You can't explain to an 8 year olds other family's snobbery or rejection. I've been hurt so many times by other homeschooling moms that I am used to feeling and being alone, but it is not easy to explain to a sweet, caring, fun-loving kid that the "friend" is not rejecting you, it is the mom that is the problem.

Immaculate Conception, Patroness of America
He thrived socially in his one year of Catholic school.  He was happy to be in with the other kids.  He did well in school, but his brothers (grades 6 and 1) did not.  Not only did it cost too much but the kids education was lacking.  So, we decided to homeschool them again--after all if I'm going to be doing over three hours of homework with the kids, I might as well homeschool them.  Piers did well at home, too, but he longed for adventure.

After stubbornly refusing to send him to the public high school, I gave in in the middle of his sophomore year.  Since he could pass the school's tests (for reasons that were not his fault) except biology (he got credit for passing biology), he actually complete the four years of requirements in the two and a half years at high school.  He was on the wrestling team, in ROTC, CAP, and did well in his classes.  He grew into a caring, loving, considerate, kind adult.

St. Brendan, brother's patron
He graduated high school last year and decided to join the Air Force.  However, he didn't want just any job; he wanted adventure.  He joined the Air Force last Summer for pararescue.  In the meantime he worked at a Boy Scout camp for several weeks and got a job at an adventure park in Oklahoma City.  He really enjoyed being outdoors.  The adventure park had zip lines, rock climbing, and other physical challenges.  It was a perfect fit for him.  Unfortunately, once it got too cold the park closed for the winter.  Now, all he had to do was wait for his Air Force slot.  For reasons I don't want to get into here, he was told that he could not go to pararescue training.  He was deeply hurt and disappointed.  He had looked forward to it for a few months and then found out the Air Force didn't want him in that field. He tried to deal with it.  However, as things go in the military, they changed their policy.  He was in again!  He was so excited and happy!  He worked hard, going to Crossfit every weekday morning at 6am. He built up his muscles and his mind.  He was so delighted that he was willing to get his ducks in a row. He took college classes in the interim and waited for April to come.  He got news of the Air Force policy changing back and a chance they would take his dream away from him again.  His recruiter acted fast and got him in a slot a month earlier--before the rules could be changed again.
St. Florian, brother's confirmation patron

Today, he left.  His father, his sister, his youngest brother, and I spent time with him at the MEPS station--the processing center.  He is at the airport right now awaiting his flight to San Antonio.  He is a man now, but mom can't help remembering the tiny adorable toddler.  My heart hurts, my soul aches, but I put him in the Father's hands.  Your children leaving home is an inevitability, but it is wrenching all the same.  I pray for him to be surrounded by saints and that Christ will strengthen him.

I love you, son.  You are my heart and you are always welcome to call, email, write, fb, visit, stay for a while.  I wish I could keep you young, but I am proud of the man you have become.

St. Michael, patron of the military, pray for him and protect him.