Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's Love Got to Do With It?

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
So help me God.

My husband, at Officer Training School, having sworn to live a life of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all he does.
These days ~ they have been raw.

Yesterday Ken swore Thomas on to active duty status.
Thomas lifted his hand to mirror his father’s,
and became part of the 1% of our nation’s people
to actively participate in blanketing America in freedom through military service. 

This is what it looks like right after witnessing your first-born son take the first steps in your legacy.
We all lead others...little brothers, who celebrate the witness of manhood, come.
We took him to the airport in Frankfurt, Germany this morning.  He’s flying right now over the Atlantic, jetting a line to Dallas, Texas and a final destination of San Antonio, where training begins at the airport with the warm welcome by the Training Instructors.

I won’t hear from him for days.  Or not at all.  His dad is the reliable phone call.  With the time difference of 7 hours and his dad’s 24/7 mandatory wearing of the “baby” ~ his work cell phone ~ we’ve instructed him to call dad’s phone with his two minute allotted phone call.  It's probably best anyway.  I'm doing my best not to think of the tools used in these next several weeks to sharpen my son.  They will be good ones, but mamas struggle with our kids pain, even when it refines, right?

I have to admit I’ve been falling apart these last 24 hours, laughter bubbling over one minute, tears sliding my cheeks the next.  I know I’m not the first mom to send a son off to training.  I had to try to breathe through the physical ache of thinking about what it has been throughout the lines of human history, moms sending sons off to war.  And I have not dared to wander the path of moms who will never get to say hello again to a son.  So, I know, it’s only Basic training.
What’s love got to do with it?
Because I have found myself most vulnerable, closest to sobbing, when my husband has been so very near.  
When I straightened and cleaned,
sorted and stacked,
asked "keep it" or "throw it" 
The Last dinner sat cooling on the counter
and my husband helped pack the carry-on for the next three days of "pick 'em up!!" and "put 'em down!!"
Throwing light, distracting humor into the heavy air with,
"I sure would like to eat some of that crappy take-out Chinese food we just bought."
While I busied my way through the eminent goodbye.

He knew.
Love knows.

My husband has been studying me, learning me, and loving me for 22 years. 
He knows that if I clean my way through busyness, 
organize my way through the emotions I might buy myself a bit of reprieve from the chaos that I feel inside.
My own war between celebrating the life ready to lead and the loss that comes from love's letting go.

So I haven't lingered in his gaze.  And when he caught me last night and held me close I could not be the brave smiling mom that sent the boy man off into the wild blue yonder.  I sobbed.  And he held tight.  And the boy man joined the embrace, acknowledging that love can look so frail when it's bent beneath the heavy weight of goodbyes.  And when it looks frail ~ you just get caught up in the embrace and hold on tight.  For only love is strong enough to bend and not break beneath the heavy weight of goodbye.

We sent him off with very few tears.  He said goodbye with a smile and with a solid embrace.  And he's either sleeping or studying, (and I hope not watching a movie or listening to his iPod, Mr. Walking Jet-lag Basic Zombie.  Oh, who am I kidding ~ he's not going to read this until he's out of Basic!) en-route to San Antonio.

I thought yesterday was the hardest day, this morning feeling good all the miles home, talking to my husband in the car.  And when I came home I began the gathering, trailing the dog into his empty bedroom, and found myself sitting on the chair and crying again.


Love doesn't keep you from the storms.  Love is the center, the eye ~ all quiet so you can breathe ~ of the storm.  My husband knows.  He knows that in letting go there is loss.  There is grief.  And the realization that you never owned love anyway.  Love is always a gift to receive and to give.  And that practicing suffering love together means when suffering comes, there is a sheltering embrace that is solid and safe to cry in.

"It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles."  Philippians 4:14

This is what I have learned of love.  My love will laugh with me, dream with me, suffer with me, and shelter with me.  I'm so glad he knows.

"Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it.  Love makes up for practically anything."  
1 Peter 4:8

What's love got to do with it, Favored One?  Love is the only real thing there is.  I'm grateful today, for the man Love placed in my life many years ago.  And I'm grateful that Love knows my son, has plans for him, and can be trusted with him.  I'm grateful that I really and truly know Love. 


  1. Tad Camellia and crewFebruary 16, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Prayers coming your way for all of you. This is quite the journey your family has embarked on (again!)

  2. Thank you, Stearns family! It's good to walk the journey together for a time, and we're grateful we walked it with you. Prayers for you in your walk and transitions that are rolling up to meet you (as kids grow older!)

  3. I found your blog through the Faithful Bloggers directory. I was drawn to this post because I have a son - he's only 10, but he's growing up so fast. He still sits on my lap, and I know one day soon he will be too big (or too cool!). So I found myself crying reading your post, thinking about what it will be like when I'm in your situation, sending him off into the big world. Your words are eloquent, and heart-tugging. Thank you for sharing that we do get through it.

  4. Christine, don't ever believe that there's a magic age when boys stop wanting the affection of their mother! I have three boys (19, 12, and 10) and they happily hold my hand, escort me with an extended arm and always get my car door. My Thomas told me on the phone that he started to cry in church at Basic the first Sunday because he could remember me holding his hand and singing to him the praise songs they were playing. Enjoy that boy of yours! Love, Tobi


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