Friday, April 15, 2011
Day of Tears
She had a list of places to go for things she wanted to get before heading back to the hotel room to have some alone time with her husband, and as I mentioned in the previous post, the first place on her list to go was the convenience store for some candy. Next on her list was Starbucks for some "real" coffee. I'm in love with their Chai tea lattes, so I wasn't arguing. After Starbucks we headed to the T-Mobile store so she could buy a new cell phone. Cell phones were not permitted where she was currently based, but the new base where she was heading the next morning allowed the use of them during her free time. We agreed to meet up with her at the airport early the next morning to give her the new cell phone, and spend more precious time with her before her flight to her next station.
We were going to go out for dinner to a nice Italian restaurant, but time was going by too quickly, so we decided instead to go back to the hotel room to order pizza. Jody, her husband, had decorated his room with a string of shiny little graduation hats pinned from one wall to the other, and tacked 20 glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling, something I'd started with her when she was a little girl, and it continued into adulthood when he began calling her his North Star. He'd also bought flower petals, and scattered them all over the bed and room. Having knowledge of his surprise for her, I told my daughter I had to stop off in my room before meeting up with them again for pizza. When I thought enough time had gone by I made my way to their room, and knocked tentatively, hoping I wasn't interrupting anything. If it was me seeing and being alone with my husband for the first time after a two month absence, well, I wouldn't be able to resist jumping him...mom could wait!
This is a girl with grit, who doesn't take shit from anyone or anything. She's been bucked off horses more times than I can count, and gotten right back on to teach them a lesson for doing so. She shows more courage and bravery and confidence than anyone I've ever met, and here she suddenly was before me in the most vulnerable state I'd ever witnessed in her. I cannot even stress how unlike her that is. She was a hurtin' unit, and bordering on a spirit of hopelessness and fear, and I wasn't liking what I was seeing. I knew it was taking everything she had in her to hold herself together. I let her talk, and open up as much as she was able in the moment, which wasn't much, and then it was time for me to leave and give them privacy. I was so upset by what I saw in her I went back to my room and wept...and prayed.
After an hour or so I heard a knock on my hotel room door, and there she stood with Jody, dressed again in her uniform, both of them looking solemn. I knew she'd been crying from the look of her red, swollen eyes, and I felt my heart break seeing them. I took her in my arms, then they both sat on the bed across from me looking like they were about to tell me the world was coming to an end. I watched her crumble, and she tearfully told me she wasn't going to be able to go through with staying in the Navy. I think she was afraid I'd judge her, be disappointed in her, look at her like a failure, but all I've ever wanted for my daughter is for her to be happy in this life whatever that looked like for her. I've told her many, many times that I'm proud of the person she is, and the woman she's grown up to be, not what she does.
I don't feel it was a mistake for her to go into the Navy, because there was just too much good that sprang from that choice for all of us, not the least of which was her finding focus on what she truly desires in her heart for her life. I know what drove her choice to join the Navy, one of the reasons being to find some way out of the nightmare that was this past year for all of us in our family. We were all overwhelmed to the nth degree, not knowing how to handle what was going on, and certainly feeling utterly alone and helpless. It was a flippin' nightmare, and we're still not out of the woods yet, but we are all, like my daughter, beginning to finally find our focus, and to lean toward that desire. Desperation makes for desperate moves.
There are times when you know you just don't fit in an environment, be it a job, relationship, a group of friends, whatever. You know deep down, your gut telling you its just wrong. This is what I felt and heard in my daughter, and if that's the case, then she's right, she needs to leave for her mental, emotional, and physical well being. I look back on my life and find my biggest mistakes were the ones I made to stay in something that I knew was wrong for me, and I refused to listen to what the inside was telling me. I didn't trust what it was telling me. I didn't trust myself, and not trusting myself, not listening, led me down roads with so much pain that could have easily been avoided. Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but with the wisdom I've gained from it I have encouraged my daughter to listen and trust what her insides are telling her. I back her in whatever she decides, because I have faith and trust in that within her. It is her life, and in my mind she belongs first to God, and far be it from me to get in the way, or judge a path she is on if God has other plans for her life. I'm not that brazen to go up against God, which I consider to be the Life in her. I've trusted God so far with her, and I'll continue to do so. I'll stand by for guidance, but only to guide her to listen and trust what the inside of herself is saying, which I may or may not agree with.
If she finds a way to leave, my daughter knows precisely what she is coming back to, but now she's got new eyes, a different view. One that is full of gratitude for what she has been blessed with, what she has, and one where she knows what to now focus on to move forward in her and her husband's dreams together. They both have new eyes, and new heart, and I have faith in them and their decisions. Their love for each other is one of the most profound things I've ever witnessed, and I can't help but think that God, the creator and essence of Love, is behind it.
We were all a slobbering mess of tears as we drove my daughter back to the base, and it was so hard to let her go, and watch her sad, solitary figure disappear down the walkway toward her barracks knowing what she was experiencing and feeling. We promised we'd meet her at the airport early the next morning, but even knowing we'd see her in a few hours didn't relieve the ache in our hearts. When we got back to the hotel, still sitting in the car, I watched as Jody, big tough cowboy that he is, give way to tears so heartbreaking I thought it would undo me. After he pulled himself together a bit, we both parted ways to go deal with our emotions in our respective rooms. Later, he came to my door, brighter, more positive, and with a renewed conviction that he'd do what it takes to get his wife back home if that is what she wanted. His brightness and confidence helped me to find my own again, and as I lay down to get catch a bit of a nap before getting back up to go meet my daughter at the airport, I sent up a prayer of gratitude for what the Love of God taught me that day.
When it comes to Love's tender mercies, I am humbled and awed.
(Next post: Airport)