Letters From Home- My Heart Now Belongs To The US Army
Have you heard the song by Tony Bennett, ‘I left my heart in San Francisco’? Well, this week, I left my heart, or a very big part of it at the Recruiters office for the United States Army. My son, Tyler, left for Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia as he begins his career as a soldier. And I didn’t even get to say Goodbye.
My Tyler has always made me proud. We worked hard to get him here. Two weeks pre-mature and weighing in at just over 6 pounds, he needed steroid shots to develop his little lungs.
From bringing Mom dandelions, to Super Kids Day at school, to being the All-State Goalkeeper in Soccer in 2007, Tyler finds a way to make me smile. But, the thing that I really love about Tyler is his heart. Tyler has a heart as big as Texas! (He would say that it’s because he was born there). He gives 100% to everything that he does, and expects the same from those around him, so you can imagine that his disappointments are huge as well.
Tyler was my Daddy’s little Buddy. And my Daddy was a soldier. I think Tyler has always wanted to be like Paw-Paw. When he told me of his decision to join the Army, I was surprised, but so proud of the thought process that lead to that decision. He was smart, planning for his future. Would my Daddy be proud? Absolutely!
The closer the time for Basic Training came, the more I craved spending time with My Tyler. Quick lunches when he wasn’t working his job as a Security Officer at GEO Group, family dinners, and Church. There was never enough time.
The weekend before Tyler left, I told him that everything would change when he was gone. He would never come back home the same way again. He was leaving as my Son, but would return as a different person…a soldier. And his home here, would only be a place to come between duty stations. The thought just killed me. How am I ever going to live without My Tyler here with me?
If you know me, you know that I like having all my little chickies gathered around me. Usually all at my house around the table, laughing, cutting up and having a wonderful time. How is that going to work without the huge piece that is My Tyler?
The closer we got to Monday, I let everyone say their tearful goodbyes to Tyler, and tried to keep my eyes dry for the goodbye that I knew would come. My daughter, Whitney, her husband Tim, and their precious babies, McKayla and Lucas, our church family, my Brother and Sister and their families, all so sad to see Tyler go. I had planned on a quiet evening alone with Tyler, but instead ending up keeping my little grand-babies, and Tyler has a visitor, then went to the movie with a friend. Oh, no! My time was running out!
Up before dawn the next day (Tyler’s last), I knew I would have only a short amount of time to visit with him before I drove him across town to the Recruiter’s office to wait for the bus that would take him to MEPS (Mililary Entrance Processing Station). Alas, when I arrived home, Tyler was in a flurry of things that he hadn’t finished, packing, signing checks for me to handle his bills while he was away, and saying goodbye to his cousin and his beloved dog, Ranger. That emotional farewell almost did me in, but I turned away and took in deep breaths until the feeling of losing it passed. We drove in almost silence to the Recruiters, both of us lost in our own thoughts. Once there, Tyler has some papers to sign and last minute details for his trip with his recruiter.
Then…the bus came. My heart was beating out of my chest, but I hugged his neck, and, as I held on for just a moment too long, Tyler whispered in my ear, “Be strong, Mom”. I couldn’t let him down, so I wiped away the huge tears that had started creeping from the corners of my eyes, and watched as my little boy got on the bus to his new life. Wow! No time for goodbyes. What would I have said anyway? How much I love him? How proud I am of him? I would hope that I spent plenty of time telling him those things. Perhaps, I would have just held on a little longer, and remembered the tiny baby, the little boy with the bright orange hat that was Paw-Paw’s buddy, the long legged goalie, the security officer, Whitney’s brother, and McKayla’s & Lucas’s uncle. Then I would have prayed for the safe return of that boy turned American Soldier.
I love you, Tyler, with all my heart, you are and have always been my hero!