Missing Him

I went to The House of Emporer tonight, where my son used to deliver Chinese food before he was promoted to waiter. Before he left for Marine boot camp in San Diego. They were thrilled to see us, my husband and I, pointing out the letter he’d written which was tacked to the board by the cash register. “We miss him,” they said. “He is very nice.”
I looked at that letter, at the mark my son makes on so many people. Like his father, he can make friends with any one. Any where, at any time. I’m not like that. I make friends with a select few, those whom I sense have a genuine heart rather than traits which annoy me or cause me to question myself.
But, Daniel? Probably he’s made many friends in the Marine brotherhood. He wrote to us that he’s leader of his prayer group, this boy whose friends at home made me stay up nights in my own private prayer group of one.
He wrote that two recruits tried to escape by climbing the fence, and now face felony charges; if they weren’t getting yelled at enough before, surely they are now. By Drill Instructors, or parents, or even their own inherent sense of shame. “Dumbasses,” he called them, astute enough to recognize the futility of quitting when many twice his age have yet to learn that lesson.
He wrote that he shot a score of 234, which was only two points below his Senior Drill Instructor’s score of 236. I joke at school that I should have given him a gun years ago…
My mother said she’s proud of me, of the way that I’m handling his choice to be a Marine. I’m handling it, to be sure, proud of his accomplishments. Proud of the way he’s pursuing his dream. But my pride does not usurp my concern. Or, the way I come home every night calling, “Did we get a letter?”
We’re going to San Diego on April 10. We’ll see him graduate, God willing, and receive the emblem of the eagle, globe and anchor. He will be called Marine for the first time since January 17.
But I will always call him son.
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13 thoughts on “Missing Him”

  1. I really appreciated your honesty here – pride and concern can live on the same plate – balancing these emotions and more is about priorities. Your love for him is so obvious, he's a blessed boy to have your love. And, how lovely that others too are missing him. take care and safe travels to the graduation.

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  2. I saw the headline for your post while I was scanning FB with my morning coffee today, and realized how long it had been since I stopped by here and told you how much I enjoy your wonderful writing about books and teaching and life. My bad! I am glad to hear that your son is doing so well, and that you will be seeing him soon. I will keep you all in my prayers. Baci!

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  3. Oh, our mama's hearts…..so torn between proud of what they are accomplishing and missing them so much. for some reason, my kids leaving this time (from spring break) has been harder on me. Maybe because with my daughter graduating grad school and interviewing out of state I realize that this might be one of the last times we are all together for a while.

    So excited you get to go to San Diego for the ceremony! Praying for you, friend.

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  4. The Decision

    There is a moment before a shape
    hardens, a color sets.
    Before the fixative or heat of kiln.
    The letter might still be taken
    from the mailbox.
    The hand held back by the elbow,
    the word kept between the larynx pulse
    and the amplifying drum-skin of the room’s air.
    The thorax of an ant is not as narrow.
    The green coat on old copper weighs more.
    Yet something slips through it—
    looks around,
    sets out in the new direction, for other lands.
    Not into exile, not into hope. Simply changed.
    As a sandy track-rut changes when called a Silk Road:
    it cannot be after turned back from.

    Jane Hirshfield

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  5. I know how you feel. I have my oldest son with the Army in Kuwait, my second son is on a 6-month mission trip to Russia, and my youngest son is in seminary in Philadelphia. My sons are scattered all over the world! I really miss them but realize that they're doing what we trained them to do, so I can't whine too much! I'm very proud of them all.

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  6. I have been staring at the comment section of this post for a while, because I feel anything I say does not exactly seem fitting. I know so little about having children and then seeing them make choices that both make you proud and scare you. I can only imagine.. But your post brought so much of your feelings to live. It was so touching. I didn't want to pass by without saying anything.

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  7. Bellezza, thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post. It's very touching.

    Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

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  8. What a lovely post – your son sounds like quite a young man and I can only imagine how proud you must be of him. Thanks for sharing so much – this was quite a touching post.

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  9. Bellezza, sometimes a little story is needed.

    A 93-year-old man in Houston named Elbert Wood had his house vandalized by a couple of kids with spray paint when he went to the doctor one day. They really tore things up, and made a mess of his possessions – doubly sad because he just lost his wife a few months earlier.

    Word got out via the Michael Berry show on Houston AM radio, and one thing led to another. To make a long story short, listeners contributed about $50K and all the labor to completely redo his house. While they were working, Mr. Wood went off to an assisted living place that volunteered an apartment for him.

    As it happens, Mr. Wood is a decorated Marine. And, the Marines showed up. As they said, “We don't ever leave a man behind, and we're not going to leave Mr. Wood behind.” That's who your son signed up with, and despite all the anxiety and cares, you can at least rest in the knowledge that your son never will be left behind, in any way.

    You can see an unbelievably touching video of Mr. Wood and his Marine friends (and all the other volunteers) here.

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