It’s my privilege to introduce you to my dear friend, Athena Moberg, of Maui, Hawaii. She is one of the most remarkable women I know – I’m glad to call her friend, and I’m excited to speak at her ALOHA Conference In September. I’ve asked her to share her perspective on being a military mom.  Friday she shared part one of her story, and here is part two. Visit her complete bio here.

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Always Faithful 

{A Military Mom’s Story}  – Part Two

 

Today is Boot Camp Graduation Day.  September 10, 2010

It has been 89 days since I smiled at my son as he looked over his shoulder at me with his backpack on, disappearing into the crowd at Kahului Airport. Did you know 89 days is equal to 7,689,600 seconds?  It is.  A mom knows these things.

Have you ever just thought about someone whom you’ve not seen in a while, trying to picture them in your mind? I’ve done this with many people over the years. I feel like I have a clear memory of them, but then somehow I cannot capture the color of their eyes or the particular way they smile. It is almost as though they are fuzzy.

I smiled at him every day of his life. Now, here I am struggling to remember the tiny details of his face or his laugh? 

I feel like Barbara Hershey in that 80’s movie Beaches where she’s frantically looking through shoe boxes of photographs as Bette Midler tries to help her. Barbara’s character has a terminal illness that has robbed her mind of the ability to remember her mother’s hands.

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I cannot remember my son’s smile.

Then the “mom-thoughts” come in waves… “I bet he hasn’t smiled at all lately, I don’t think he’s allowed to.”  “What if the drill instructors break him down so badly he is permanently damaged and can’t remember who he really is on the inside?”  “I hope his sore throat he had when he left for boot camp didn’t turn into an infection.” Oi vey…

The thought of him being yelled at every day for 2 months and 28 days by drill instructors does not help.

12 weeks and 5 nights of sleeping in barracks full of bunk beds where countless other 17-year-old-would-be Marines have secretly cried themselves to sleep silently for fear they’d be found out for the frightened boy-almost-man they are. This was reality. This was my son’s new normal.

And today was the day he would march onto that parade deck, having completed his basic training. Being reunited with us, his family for the first time in over 2,137 hours will be incredible. 18 of us had come from 3 different states and were now staring across the parade deck, hoping for the festivities to begin.

If you’ve not had the privilege of attending such an event, the only way to describe the sights, sounds, smells and emotions is for you to imagine an Olympic stadium, where countless people wait with bated breath as they stand to hear their National Anthem played, with tears in their eyes…that is how I would describe the almost palpable patriotism we were experiencing.

There are bleachers filled with several hundred proud family members and loved ones who have flown, taken trains and cars to then wait hours in the stadium-style seating to catch the first glimpse of their baby, their husband, their uncle, their fiancée, the apple of their eye. Their Marine.

There is an announcement on the PA system. Next, dead silence.  Then, in absolute flawless formation, hundreds of uniforms with perfect posture march on deck to the sounds of The Marine Corps Band.

Oh, the pomp and circumstance…  Moms are wiping tears from their eyes, children are cheering and waving tiny flags, whistling and clapping can be heard from miles around. This is it. This is what we have all waited over 128,000 minutes for. The horns and drums crescendo, the marching continues until every single Marine is right in front of us, looking straight ahead, marching in unison. Saluting.

There are several hundred people in the stands together celebrating. Little clumps in 2s, 4s, 10s, 18… Every single one of us are on our feet, eagerly craning our necks, anticipating the moment when we can distinguish which one of the uniforms out there is Our Marine. Clapping, smiling, crying and laughing together. All of us. United.

The marching and music come to a close for the grand finale as we all erupt in applause. The most beautiful standing ovation I’ve ever had the privilege of participating in.  The celebration goes on until we hear a booming voice on the PA system. Then, everyone is perfectly silent.  Even the children.

In that moment, with all of us holding back our tears of pride and joy, we stare out at the crowd of uniformed young men. The Senior Drill Instructor says a few words which none of us hears… and then we hear it.

The sound of hundreds of men bowing their heads as they stand in parade rest for prayer.

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I am not sure how to describe how I felt at that moment. I was struck with a… respect for my son that I had never had before.

I saw my son with new eyes.

Perhaps it was the crowd, the music, the pomp, the circumstance, I’m not quite sure. But for some reason, seeing him standing there bowing his head in prayer along with hundreds of other men was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

I waited 7,689,600 seconds for that moment. And it was worth it.

After the ceremony, we all rushed out of the bleachers onto the parade deck to hug the young men we had prayed for and thought about for months… it was such a beautiful display of  love I will never forget. My son showed me a small token he received on the day he earned the title “Marine”.  It was called an Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

 

He proudly handed over a few items he wanted me to hold onto for him. There was an inscription on one of the items he gave me in Latin… it read Semper Fidelis.

 

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When I asked him what it meant and he stood up a little taller. He proudly told me, “It means always faithful, mom.”

My prayer for my son during this season of his life is that he would not get discouraged when his life’s choices are not what he’d expected. That he would be strong in his faith. That he would be courageous during times of crippling doubt. My prayer is for him to know how unconditionally loved he is, always. My prayer is for whatever he chooses to do in life, he will choose to be always faithful.

 

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Thank you so much for reading. I would love to hear from you. Can you relate to my story? Do you come from a military family? Perhaps you do and it brings back not-so-fond memories or attending 7 different schools before you were 15 years old, or a broken relationship because of a deployment or a loss of a loved one due to a time of war… Please reach out, I would love to listen or lend an encouraging word.

If you do have the ability to reach your kids today, please don’t wait another second— tell them you love them. Express how proud you are of them, smile at them and memorize their smile…cherish it. I hope you never have to wait 7,689,600 seconds to tell them you love them or that you’re proud of them. I’d love to hear from you. Do you intentionally smile at your children often? Are you estranged from your children? If you are apart from them due to a death or broken relationship, my heart cries with you and my prayers for you are real. If could see your child today, what would you say? What would you want them to remember about you? Please leave comment below and let me know how this story touched your heart.

Love,

Athena Moberg xoxo

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