Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to witness some pretty spectacular things. First of all, our oldest son went to wrestling camp. What's spectacular about that you ask? Well, we just moved from one coast to another, and signed him up for wrestling camp at a large university in PA. He is going all by himself. Not knowing anyone there, this 14 year old kid, walked in, set his stuff down and said goodbye to his parents. His determination still surprises me. He has more guts than I have, I can tell you that. So, leaving him there, I got a small taste of what the upcoming years hold for me...more letting go, a little at a time. Not easy stuff, but I have a mighty Savior, who holds my hand every step of the way. The greatest part of leaving him there, was that after he unloaded his stuff in his room, he and I found a private spot, and prayed together. With a heart of gratitude, I tell you there is no more precious moment than praying with your child. As I write this, he is still at camp, wrestling his little heart out.
The other spectacular moment came when T and I got to reunite with some old friends. After dropping off our son, we met up with some buddies of T's from USMA. One he hadn't seen in many years. Dan, Anthony and Thane (all pictured above) met each other when they were just 18. All had left home, and traveled many miles from friends and family to become plebes at West Point. They were assigned to the same company, and the same room, and quickly they formed a bond that is much stronger than much else I have ever witnessed. Since I have not attended the Academy myself, I only have stories of what goes on there, on which to form an opinion. But something really extraordinary happens there. When you arrive, you are literally stripped of everything familiar to you. Whatever you were before you got there, means nothing after you get there. You stand in your black knee socks, trimmed gym shorts and white tshirt, and you look exactly like everyone else. Daily you receive screaming and spitting in your face. You're demoralized, insulted and given tasks that are designed for you to fail. Determined to succeed you rely on the only things you have left...yourself and the ones who endure beside you.
Many times I have listened to stories told by my husband and his buddies that are hard to listen too. Why? Because building great leaders is not an easy or attractive process. It requires things many of us are not willing to witness, let alone endure. Military leadership is something we just expect, we don't really understand what it takes to achieve. But these guys know exactly what it takes, and they have it. But what is really amazing is that after all of the years since they met, its as if they have never been apart. The loyalty and friendship that the experience created is like nothing I have ever seen.
When these three men had the opportunity to see each other, they made it happen. Each of them set everything else aside, traveling many miles so they could reunite. We sat together in a restaurant and it was as if no time had passed. They laughed, interrupted each other, finished each other's stories, smoked cigars and I just got such joy out of watching them. They have a bond that none of us (their wives) can understand, but we love them for it. These guys were trained to always look out for each other. Even though only one of them is still in the Army, it is not a lesson that applies only to the Army. To them, it's life long. Kids, careers, miles and life may physically seperate them, but they remain comitted to one another in brotherly love and loyalty.
Anthony (in the middle) just got back from Korea. He's been reunited with his family and they are embarking on a new phase for his career. Dan (on the right) lives close by, so he and Thane will get to see more of each other. He introduced Thane and I 16+ years ago. I remind him every time I see him, of how grateful I am. Old friends are so unique, they know what we used to be and they love us and accept us anyway...that's pretty huge!
Oh yea...I forgot the best part...whenever my husband gets together with any of his old friends, they all say the same thing..."Thane, you look exactly the same as you did 15 years ago!" (very true, btw) So, when we got in the car, I said to him, "How come all of our friends say you look the same as you did 15 years ago, but none of them say that about me?" He answered, "Because honey, you don't look the same as you did 15 years ago...your hair is much smaller now." (also true!)