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Semper Fi

Yesterday we said goodbye to our youngest son, Nico. He left for Marine Corps boot camp—also known as three months of certain Hell for all new recruits.

However, it’s very likely Nico received his first beat-down long before his fellow recruits since even on his first day he refused to obey the rules to the letter (and, wow, where in the world could my son have gotten THAT tendency…).

Upon arrival in San Diego, the Marine Corps recruits make one phone call home—then that’s it for the next 13 weeks. No phone calls, no texts. No contact with anyone outside Camp Pendleton except by snail mail. Recruits don’t even have their phones for three months, which, these days, I think should be some kind of mandatory rite of passage for every American kid.

Anyway, during this one phone call home, the recruits read from a script in a very robotic voice. The wording goes something like: “This is Private So-n-So. I am calling to inform you that I arrived safely at my destination.” Then they hang up.

But as soon as we heard Nico’s voice, my husband and I started yelling, “WE LOVE YOU!” And continued yelling it until he stopped speaking.

At which point he was supposed to just hang up.

Right?

But there was a pause. Then we heard, “I love you too”—said with a very distinct smile in his voice. Fully aware some painful consequences were coming for this choice, but refusing to lose the opportunity to tell us he loved us. Worth it.

Man, do I love this warrior child.

Here’s a photo from yesterday’s induction ceremony at the Seattle MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station). Yes, I managed to smile, despite having sobbed for 36 hours up to this point—with another 24 hours of weeping to go. It felt like there was a knife in my heart.

His older brother standing beside him drove 10 hours roundtrip from college for the sendoff. “I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” he said.

Semper Fi, indeed.

 

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