I see you

I see you

For the past week leading up to July 4, I decided I should wear a patriotic outfit every day. As I thought about it more, I realized this was my chance to pull out all of my “Marine Mom” shirts I had created for Matt’s graduation from basic training.

So,  each day, I pieced together a random mix of patriotic pieces, which I actually thought were pretty great. I paired a Marine Mom t-shirt with a kimono and cute shoes. I wore an “OORAH” t-shirt under a fringy sweater. My outfits prompted a couple of conversations at work, but for the most part, everyone seemed to ignore my patriotism and fashion combos.

By Saturday, when I wore a Marine Mom t-shirt to the grocery store, it had become my uniform. I was no longer even thinking about my outfit.

When I got to the check-out line late in the day, I wasn’t in the mood for the incredibly friendly Meijer worker who wanted to escort me to my self check-out station. I tried to smile and say thanks.

“Ohhh, and one other thing…” she said.

“Oh, no.” I thought… “What now?”

“About your shirt…”

“My shirt?” I silently questioned.

“Thank you so much for your sacrifice,” she said. “That really means so much.”

 

***

 

Dang.

I’m not gonna lie. I wanted to give her a tackle hug right in the middle of self check-out. I smiled and said thank you, hoping she wouldn’t notice I was holding back tears.

This stranger must have had some general first-hand knowledge of what it means to be a mom of a child in the military. She couldn’t have possibly comprehended all that it meant to me in that moment.

It just felt so good to be seen.

I realized I’ve been walking around trying to make a statement with my shirts.

***

Before I had a child in the military, I hadn’t thought about the amount of sacrifice that is required. I will never fully understand all that the person serving gives up. But I’m starting to grasp what it means for that person’s family. 

We don’t get to be together for every holiday or long weekend. He doesn’t have summers off or spring break. He doesn’t get to come home for a family wedding. We won’t all be together to celebrate his sister’s high school graduation.

… There’s always an empty seat at the table.

… There’s one person missing from the family photos.

…. I have to convince myself it would still be OK to go on a family vacation.

While other families are gathering for parties and BBQs and fireworks, my heart longs to have everyone together.

I know I’m not the only one. 

 

***

 

I’ve reached a stage in life where many of my friends’ kids are on their own. They have their own lives and even their own families. Others endure the heartbreak of family conflict that keeps everyone from getting together. I have friends whose children have passed into eternity. The pain in their heart is impossible to comprehend. My heart breaks thinking about how hard it must be to not be able to hear your child’s voice or see him or her again.

I realize that I’m super blessed that I get to proudly proclaim my status with an entire week’s worth of t-shirts. I honestly could not be more proud to have a child who has chosen to serve his country in this way.

Independence Day takes on so much more meaning now that it’s personal for our family. That sense of pride doesn’t take away the ache of wishing we could be together.

So, today…

If you are staring at an empty seat, no matter what the reason, I might not be able to fully understand what you are going through. But I just wanted to say…

“I see you.”

 

 

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I’m Emily

Storyteller. Photographer. Creative.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. This is a space where I share my life through words, photos and projects. I’m so thankful that you’re here.

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