Last night I was scrolling through my photo albums on Facebook. One album in particular really got to me.
It was the album I allowed a few of my friends to contribute to while I was gone at Basic Training.
I had heard rumors that we would get the occasional phone time and thought this would be a good way to see what my five year old had been up to while I was gone.
The rumors were true, for some platoons. My platoon did get a couple phone calls but we were never allowed on social media. I didn’t get to see those photos until graduation.
Graduation. One of the proudest moments of my life. I completed BCT at 26, where the average age was around 21. Shout out to my battles who were in their 30’s, you ladies killed it.
At graduation, I received an Army Achievement Medal for being the Outstanding Solider Leader of the Cycle. Along with five other distinguished soldiers, we marched out in our own formation, talk about a proud moment. I also got to shake hands with the Major General and he even gave my son a challenge coin.
Those are moments I’ll never forget.
But, I’ll also never forget the feeling of not knowing. Not knowing what my husband and son were doing everyday. Not knowing how court was going. Not knowing if he even remembered me. My heart aches just thinking about it.
Luckily, there’s an automatic sense of survival that happens. No, I’m not trying to compare BCT to deployment by any means, please don’t think that. It’s called compartmentalization, and I became pretty good at it. I was able to separate my home life and life at basic. At least while we were busy. The limited free time we had was the toughest part. That’s when my mind traveled home. I wrote letters. Asked a million questions, hoping some of them would be answered to help ease that awful feeling. It became a sense of escape, a sense of sanity.
A lot of people join the military to escape their home lives, that wasn’t the case for me. Being married to a Marine, and being the accused over-achiever that I am, I was there to fill a sense of duty and pride. I had a wonderful husband at home and a five year old that had been entrusted to my care. My son had only been with us since January 5, 2017. I left April 23, 2017. I was gone for roughly the same amount of time as he had known me. Plus my husband, that I convinced to do foster care in the first place, had to be a single dad for 73 days. Talk about guilt.
Here we are now, four months after graduation, and looking at that photo album still gives me that heart wrenching feeling of not knowing. It’s bittersweet. I’m proud of this accomplishment, but can’t help but feel sad for the moments I missed.