It was a week ago today that the shaking started. It was the day we planned to have Hans' farewell/ ship out party. I woke up silly early and realized I did not have anything really planned for the party. I had spent Friday morning with Hans shopping, talking and having some quality time. This morning I felt frozen inside and just quaked.
As the day went by I got things ready for both the family dinner before hand and the party afterwards. I was a bundle of nerves wondering who would or would not come, how would the balance between his clay shooting and visiting with people would go. Would there be enough food? I printed a bunch of Marine things off, to give people to look at and made a banner for decorating and cards for people to fill out. Eating was not easy! I would get hungry and then the food would hit the ice. The family dinner went well, Mom mom Anderson brought a favorite cake and we cleaned up after dinner and prepped for the party. People arrived while they were outside and it quickly became an outside party, so we scurried and got as many chairs as we could. It was hot, but not too hot. It actually went well and took my mind off what Sunday might look like. People cleared out around 8:30 and we sat outside with a few of Erin's friends and Hans. It was a neat gathering.
By Sunday the shaking was even worse and it was not like you could see it, but it was like shivering in the cold. I tried to eat the pancakes Chris made and got about half way through before they hit the butterflies and I had to stop. A sense of "I don't want to do this." "This can't be happening" went through me. Yet, I tried to be determined to keep much of that to myself and put on an OK front for Hans. We got ready, packed for the overnight, and gave instructions to the others.
At about 9:45 Hans came out with his ipod and turned the Bose on and played Josh Turner's Pallbearer. I looked at him and said, "Is that wise?" He said "I thought I'd set the mood." Now, Hans is known to be the kid that finds the obscure, funny or totally annoying song and plays it loud and long! You know like Tiny Tim, Living in the Sunlight and Blue Suede, Hooked on a Feeling. But no this morning we are listening to sad songs, well sure enough he started to play the other more uplifting songs and soon Erin, Alan and even Collin emerge to have some fun with it. It would be the last time this summer and it was Bittersweet (think we listened to that too). All I could think of is how much I love these kids and how I enjoy the fun they have together.
After goodbyes, we loaded up the car and headed to Wichita. We had some good talks and the butterflies were pretty intense much of the time. When we got to Wichita, I realized he was in shorts and a tee and not jeans and polos like the other recruits, so that made me nervous. GySgrt did not seem worried. We were told to be there at 10:30 for a briefing, photos etc, but the shuttle did not take off until 12. I guess they had 2-3 that were there for initial processing. It was a long wait, but good to sit beside him. I even grabbed a selfie with him, "because I could".
Headed to OKC and got there about 3:30. Some drama there in that the hotel liason would not let them leave the hotel, like we had been told. By then we had checked in and caught up with the Scobees who were there to take their son Wendell. Hans' friend Connor was there as well. We found a loop hole in the system in that only those recruits that had checked in had to stay, so before checking in to a room, we whisked them away for a dinner and a walk. Afterwards they got checked in, went to another briefing, visited a little and then went to their rooms.
Monday 4:45 AM, I awoke to the sound of somebody barking orders, I peeked out my door to see a bunch of recruits 7 floors down in a line. I texted Hans and said good morning. Surprisingly, he said he wanted to come up and get rid of some of the things from his bag. That he did and he looked pretty nervous, he wanted a smaller bag for the few things he had, but we did not have one. I gave him a good long hug and he was off. A good long hug, last time I would see him privately for a long time.
Hans texted that the swearing in would start at 10, so we headed to MEPS with the Scobees and got there around 9. We went through security and they showed us where the recruits were. We got to hang out with them while they went through processing. This was something we were told would not happen. I was happy. It was odd hearing them call for "Marine applicant Anderson" and then "Marine shipper Anderson" as he progressed through the phases. Unlike anything I've been through. He was slated for group 1 and taken to a briefing room. From there he came out and said his last goodbye. Why I thought we'd take pictures afterward I do not know, but we took no pictures. We talked, we prayed and we hugged, but no pictures. We got a briefing on the swearing in procedures which included the ability to take pictures afterwards. Liars! When we went to the swearing in ceremony we were told that we'd said our goodbyes and this was it. That was when I remembered Hans had not given us his phone. UGH. Back through security we went and we waited until the travel briefing was done and they were grabbing their bags to head to the airport when Hans gave us his entire bag minus glasses and belt. He was a little rattled and goodbye was harder. It was a lot harder.
All of my sons weaknesses would be laid bare before these men. I know them all and then some. I felt afraid and almost sick as I headed home. I cried a bit, feeling as vulnerable as I bet he felt or would feel in days to come. Sister Cathie said it well, 'Teri, it is out of your hands, they will take care of him, that is what they are there for". That helped, she said they'd seen it all and I am sure... for better or worse. The phone call came at 12:20 and it came to Chris' phone and we missed it. I screamed, but thankfully my phone started ringing and it was him and I heard the highly anticipated phone call: "Marine recruit Anderson had arrived at the depot in San Diego and the next time we would hear from him would be by postal mail...do we understand? Do we have questions? I told him no, we love you and he said love you in return. Goodbye.
He made it.
I had a wake up call Tuesday morning when I learn that the first 4 days called receiving, they really have no place to call home. No bunk, nothing. They go from thing to thing to thing for the better part of 4 days and then Friday morning thy meet their Drill Instructors. This is the stripping away of self and civilian life, a tried and true Marine process. Trust the process. By only the grace of God, I turned him over to God and the Marine Corps and vowed to pray as often as I thought of him. This was HUGE! When I walked by his room I prayed, when I missed him, I prayed. When I worried, I prayed. It helped me a ton and I can only hope that it helped him. "He needs your prayers Teri." I felt the Lord saying. Not my self pity, not my worry. The shaking ceased Tuesday AM and has not returned. I praise God for that! I did tear up today during worship as we were singing, "Jesus, thank you." It meant something even deeper today. Thank you Jesus! Thank you!
Saturday we got the notification that he signed up for Sandboxx, so we can send him digital letters. that tells me he still remembers our cell numbers! :-) What a testimony to the grace and strength of our Lord! One week down... 12 to go!