Well folks let me touch on one thing real quick, I am sitting here at Navy Lodge that's right I said Navy Lodge and that feels so easy to say.
This odyssey began right at 3months ago, I never would have dreamed this could be but yet here we are. He is so different from that teenage boy that left my house in mid April and its not the way he talks, or the manner in which he carries himself, its not even the self confidence he just oozes now, but something deeper much much deeper. Something in his eyes, something that he hasn't even seemed to find yet. I find it a bit uneasy that something hiding behind those blue eyes.
He has been pushed to his absolute limit only to discover new ones, and set those a little farther out a bit more out of reach just to ensure that he keeps on moving. I wondered as I watch him walk down the mall today, at first he was head high shoulders back strollin proud as they say,. but it has been a long three months for this young man, an extended period colored by the most difficult things he has ever endured. Due to the extended period added onto the original 8 he now has to wait. Wait until a slot opens up at A school, wait until the wheels turn finding him the training position he should have been graduating from in just a couple of weeks.
The more time we are together the clearer things become, he has become dependent on that direction; needing that person or persons telling him go here do that or come here do this. I watch both he and his fellow sailors while all bright eyed at noon by 5 or so almost looking lost almost looking as if at any moment someone will show up and coral them all up and send them back to what ever it was that they should be doing. These bright and energetic young men and women have endured a life changing experience, most for the better, some not quite so sure, but all changed.
I see Mothers with questioning faces, friends and siblings while ecstatic at noon looking puzzled by seven. This is played out in many different locations and the faces show so many emotions from happy elated to confused and dismayed now, do not misunderstand by any length of the imagination just merely an observation an accounting if you will. I will never and would never detract from what the Navy has given to my son or for that matter any ones child and having lived myself through Army basic I understand all to well.
The second day of our visit; the day after the big PIR date and it shows a little more, the thing they all strive for is to "get out of this place" never even considering the ones that don't get right on that plane or bus or whichever mode of transportation whisks them away to that whatever awaits. I see these "holdovers"(as they are called) walking away from cars and vans and SUV's or whatever their loved ones have made the trek in and they don't step quite as lively, heads while still high are just not quite as high as noon yesterday, steps not quite as lively. They appear on the walk back one after the other all dressed alike, all look as if they are dreading that night; that night they are still here. The morning to follow no longer a recruit but not the escape they had hoped for. Most of these Sailors are still here because of something that happened something that changed their dates, changed their plans, changed their lives. These men and women have a greater understanding of self sacrifice a greater understanding of those unimaginable limits and a feeling of something while it is visible in the eyes of each one but if you never take the time to look you will never see. Now all of these will go on to serve that greater good being part of incredible adventures, days on end on the sea and they will someday look back with great fondness for these days but for today just a day maybe two it can seem so dark.
That is where we come in those ones that made that trek just to lay eyes or hands on the young sailor waiting for them standing there giving praise not the empty kind but the ones that really matter the little ones that most forget but we will not, we will be right there, waiting, praising even the most minute thing. Holding on to that motivation for them just as long as they need it, just as long as it takes.