The day was finally here...
We waited on the side of the road behind the white line just as we were told. Hundreds of other families joined us and yet we all managed to stay single file; no doubling up here. We listened, and waited, and watched as the sun rose; each one expecting something different but all the same.
Tears came to my eyes as I saw the group headed our way. You could hear the cheering start at the beginning of the road where we could not make out faces. Flags flew in the air, and people ran in step. Trainees shouted cadences as the Training Instructors kept them in step. I knew what was coming, but I simply could not wait.
They ran by and I knelt by the side of the road with my camera in hand. I wanted to get them all running past us once.
I knew they would be back again, and while I was trying to be a videographer I was a mom looking for her son in the mass of people who all looked alike. I heard another mom say, “I can’t find him! I used to look for his red hair but it’s not there anymore.” I knew if I could simply find his eyes I would recognize him.
It had been a long two months. Eight phone calls, numerous letters, hundreds of miles later and as the 760 trainees ran by we didn’t see him. I turned the camera off. Pictures would come later, and the video was done. It was time to wholly be there as a mom looking for her son.
I kept telling Captain and youngest this would be the hardest time. I could only imagine how difficult it would be to see him, but not hug him. What would it feel like to simply watch him run by? And would he even see us, since I forgot the silly banner sitting next to the bookcase at home? Would I even see him?
The colored shirts returned and as slowly as they were going it felt as if it was a sprint. I frantically scanned each face, searching for recognition of the boy I had birthed eighteen years ago. If I could just find his eyes… and there they were.
I can only imagine what he saw. A crazy mother “jumping out of her skin” is what he described. I saw his eyes and his smile and the two months we had waited seemed to pass in an instant as I screamed his named and cheered him on. He ran in step with his flight, shouting the words together, and yet his eyes searched for us and found us and our hearts rejoiced.
It would be a few hours before we could see him again much less hug him, and the time went true to the military ways. We hurried to wait but soon we are able to congratulate the man our son had become.
(Come back tomorrow for what happened to me next. It's not so pretty.)