So many things swirling in my head the last few days.... Graduation was amazing! It was fun to see Brent in his dress uniform. Jim's brother was out from North Dakota; it's been a couple of years since we've seen Jay. He has been in the Air Force since 1987 and I think this is the first time I've ever seen him in his uniform! We had SUCH a great time having him with us--he stayed with us in billeting and joined us for both Family Day and graduation. What a treat! We also got to have Jim's aunt and uncle join us for the graduation ceremony. They live in San Diego so we don't see them very often either. And as a bonus, we were with them at lunch when they received an eagerly anticipated phone call: their first grandbaby had safely arrived! Eric was 8-12, 21" long and healthy. SO cool to share the special day with them. Congrats Uncle Arthur and Aunt Verdery!!
We arrived home safely Friday night. The girls and the little guys all came to the airport to pick us up. When we came down the escalator to baggage claim, I could see them coming across the room. We stopped and waited--I wanted to see how long it would take Brent to realize that Kayla was here in town and with them all. He watched for a while, then all of a sudden the light went on! I wish I could have had my camera, but taking it out would have made him suspicious. Kayla flew into town to be here when we got home so that she could see him too since she wasn't able to join us for graduation. It was a very happy reunion all around: Brent and Kayla; Brent and his little brothers; and Brent and his sisters. Makes a momma's heart rejoice. :)
All of us had looked forward to Brent's 10 days of leave. The plan was that he would be here until Tuesday then head to Boise, coming back here Friday night with Kayla so that they could attend the wedding of one of his childhood friends. Then it changed, and he was going to be here most/all of the time, with Kayla here the first weekend and the last. Then...there was the last change. He came home to find Kayla here and decided that he was going to spend most of his leave in Boise with her. I'm embarrassed to say that I handled the news VERY poorly. Even though I know they have to grow up and I have to let go, it hurt. It's HARD to make changes like that at the last minute. I had some plans, the little boys had things they wanted to do with Brent, and there's quite a list of people who'd like to see him. All of it...undone, most of it unlikely to be accomplished. Every morning the boys get up and ask how many more sleeps until Brent comes home. That question in invariably followed with this one: "This time, Mommy, will he stay home and be with us until he has to leave?" I don't know how to answer it. It has been very hard, excrutiatingly painful, and emotionally draining. I told someone I felt like an emotional train wreck. I know Tom Petty sings that "The waiting is the hardest part" but I'm here to tell you that it's not. It's the letting go! I just came off of 15 weeks of waiting followed by an abrupt letting go, and trust me on this: it was easier to wait!!
I guess this means we've forever entered a new chapter in our lives. I wish the transition had been simpler and less painful. I've learned some things and won't make the same mistakes with the next ones to leave. (But I'm sure I'll make other mistakes!) Many things have changed, and yet one thing will always stay the same. I love this child more than life itself and am so incredibly proud of him. He's a delightful young man! And the best part of this new chapter? It involves a wonderful, very special young lady who I hope is here to stay. She's a great complement to him and I love seeing them together.
We've settled into a routine again, one that includes knowing that Brent is more available by phone or by text. I will always wish he could stay my little boy, but I know he can't. And someday my head will convince my heart of that reality! In the meantime, I think I've come to terms with it enough to finish posting pics of our trip. (Maybe. The tears are falling afresh right now. sigh) These pics pretty much summarize our day though. It's hard to explain the emotions that run through you as you watch 362 new Marines march on that Parade Deck with the American flag flying in the background........