"Tentative" the paperwork said, was 04/07/o6; verbal: 04/15/06 or later.
I guess they meant 3/29/06. We have less than 48 hours left!
I am a caged lion.
It is 30 hours since the call-to-duty has been made, and there are already too many stories to tell.
I am all-at-once taking charge, and crumbling, and buckling UP! Goodbyes must be said! No time! Stop crying! Dinner with these, and phone calls with those! Bank accounts opened, his friends are in town. No crying! A break, and a rare pedicure for me; to take my mind off! Travel shampoos and disposable razor blades! Buckle up! E-mails to friends: "It's time, stay tuned." E-mails to my boss "I am taking 2 days off." Grandma chokes up on Goodbye, while I fall apart. Grandma proudly announces, "I did really good!" while I close the door quickly, so the dome light flips off, and I cry, and say "Yes, you did. You did great, Mom."
I arranged dinner tonight, showed up early in a restaurant my son picked off the top of his head.
I cannot believe it. I'm a shaking nervous wreck, anticipating tomorrow morning's sayonara's, while we are seated in a nearly empty room...directly next to 6 men in Army fatigues.
6 soldiers. Some young, some older. All laughing.
I listen to them while I wait for the others to arrive. I hear words such as "cadet" and "humvee." I can't STAND it! I finally say, "Gentlemen, I'm eavesdropping; my son, who is coming in the door right this minute, is leaving for bootcamp tomorrow morning."
"HURRAYYYYY!!!" They say. "26 years for me," one says.
I respond by reflex: "Did your mother cry when you left?"
He makes everyone laugh by saying "yah, she cried when I was stationed only 20 miles away from home."
The men shake my son's hand when he walks in. "Where you headed, son?" they ask him. Son. They treat him with respect. They tell him he'll be fine, and they admire his chosen profession. One is also in EOD Engineering.
They tease him about bootcamp. One knows his commanding officers.
"What's your name, son?"
"Jolley" he says.
The men fall about the table. "Ohhhhhhhh, shit! Jolley! You're in for a world o' hurtin with that name, son!" they tease.
"Are ya Happy, Jolley?" one sings out. "Holly Jolly!" another chimes in.
We laugh along, a little stunned, but at the same time taking notes, and happy for the heads up: BE READY for abuse on the Surname Front!
We quiet down and attend our own tables. Upon leaving, the boyz behind stop again at our table. They shake my son's hand. "Good luck son. You'll be fine." "He'll be fine," one addresses me, and "32 years here" another says.
Look. There's so much more that panned out on this day, that I don't have time to tell you now. Crazy and surreal, and heartbreaking.
I don't for a second believe that it is a coincidence that I ended up tonight, in a restaurant in which I never dine, to sit next to this table full of soldiers, that comforted me in my son's send-off.
And people, just send good thoughts our way, at 10:00 a.m. Central Standard, when my kid will be hitting the road, and I will be SUCKING at smiling through it all and telling him I will be fine and that I'll write and that I love him...