J.S. has now been gone again for about three months. I have adjusted a bit more to him not being here. My husband has always taken J.S.’s coming and going in stride. His brother has also adjusted better. I don’t know why the change in acceptance. I supposed if you don’t adjust, you will break. It is similar to the African proverb: “The wind does not break a tree that bends.”
However, I have made some small attempts to feel close to J.S. I have a Navy necklace with his name on it. I have a Navy bracelet. I bought my younger son a silver necklace with a Navy anchor. While it is not a perfect replacement for him, the tokens help. My husband has a challenge coin he carries everywhere. He calls it his fidget toy. A token is a “thing serving as a visible or tangible representation of a fact, quality, feeling, etc.” 1 This time, the token represents my son. Okay, I also have a handmade teddy bear. The bear is made of old “blueberries” – the blue informal uniform that sailor wear. It is basically blue camouflage.
In January, he graduated from Power School. It is his second school. His grades were great. I am was so proud of him. This is not the same kid that was in high school. That’s okay, he has found his niche. My husband went to his graduation in South Carolina. It was a wonderful ceremony. J.S. was in the color guard carrying a gun. He truly believes in respecting the American flag. However, he also believes that he is defending others’ beliefs, in that they can protest and burn the flag.
J.S. is in New York now. He is in his third school. He is living on his own. He has an apartment. (No more BEQs – Bachelor Enlisted Quarters.) He has his own room. He has his own bed. He is in his third school. Depending on the staffing and general nuttiness that is sometimes the Navy, he will graduate in July. I plan on going to that graduation. He wants to go onto one more school before he goes to the fleet. It is a chemistry class. Anything that has to do with chemistry makes my eyes roll in the back of my head. I do know that NaCl is salt and Pb is lead.
As J.S. advanced in his life, I advance as well. We both are growing in different ways. He is become a man in his own right. I am Navy mom through and through and getting back to life I had before I had him. I have returned to working full-time at a permanent position.
But I hope we can keep the special bond we have. So far we have. He answers calls and responds by text. I am still waiting for him to text me a recent picture! I will not hold my breath for this. One things that brings me great joy and makes my heart burst is how he looks after his Navy friends. One friend in particular, I will call him “K.” did not pass his last exam, called “comp,” short for comprehensive. And indeed, the exam is. It covers EVERYTHING you have learned in a particular school. After K received the news, he disappeared for a bit.
I flipped out. But J.S. texted me that I need not completely flip out (but I am a MOM. And I have adopted K as my third son). J.S. sent K. this message:
I fully believe you have both the capability and capacity to be a nuke. You’re part of my family now. I’ll see you in New York.
I’ll be honest, I cried. How could I not be proud of this child of mine? I told J.S. that he made me cry. He said that he’d “ninja’s onions in [my] room.” K is okay for now. He has one week to try and pass comp again. Although I am not particular religious, I have prayed a bit, K is often in my thoughts, and every night I light a blue candle for him.
The blue candle is a token that Navy moms use when their kids are taking exams, particularly comps. The candle is a special way to think about the sailor, send love, hope, and luck. A parent can give a pep talk to the sailor, but cannot be there physically, no hugs. A candle is another way to feel close to their kids.
This is a messy post. It is a about several things that have been tumbling through my mind in the past months. The post mentions adjustment, tokens, snippets of J.S.’s life, moving on in life, friends, relationships, and love.
Perhaps that is really what the post is really about love. Where there is love there is life – Mahatma Gandhi.2
1. Downloaded on March 10, 2018. https://www.google.com/search?ei=rRSkWoyMMYby5gLhgo-4Bg&q=meaning+of+symbol&oq=meaning+of+symbol&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i67k1j0l9.33913.42871.0.43188.8.131.52.0.0.0.106.1436.16j1.17.0….0…1.1.64.psy-ab..0.27.1506…46j0i131k1j0i131i67k1j0i46k1.0.TCQrd4pZyOs#dobs=token
2. Downloaded on March 10, 2018. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/mahatma_gandhi_100717?src=t_love