When you belong to a military family, you’re bound to experience the heartache that comes with a PCS. Every three years we move and each time, my kids Cory and Lexi have gotten better at farewells and more resilient. Nothing, however, prepared me for the summer we left Offutt AFB.
Cory and Leah started dating in January of their sophomore year. That same month, my husband, Duane, received orders to McChord AFB. His report date was early May, but with the kids still in school, we decided he should go and the kids and I would follow later.
The last few days before we left Offutt, Cory and Leah were inseparable. I knew it was going to hurt them deeply to be forced to break up. If we hadn’t had orders, I’m sure they would have dated for a long time.
Duane and I decided the kids and I should leave a day earlier; doing so would get us to my in-laws’ house on Cory’s birthday. Being military kids, they’ve rarely been with family on their birthdays so we thought this would be a great way to celebrate a special milestone. It was up to me to tell Cory.
I had picked him up from one graduation party and was chauffeuring him to another when I broke the news. Cory, overcome with emotion, actually tried to jump out of our car as I was driving. We were on a quiet road, so I stopped and let him out. He walked to a nearby cornfield and let his emotions flow. He screamed. He cried. I did my best to stay strong while I waited for him to come back. He returned to the car without saying a word. I drove to his friend’s house, told him I loved him, and let him have his space. I drove home, sobbing the whole way wondering if Duane and I had made a mistake.
Cory came home a few hours later and acted like nothing was wrong. I asked if he was OK. He said yes and that I should know by now he never stays mad for long. My son was growing into such a strong young man.
The following night was the last night Cory and Leah would ever see each other. I silently cried when the kids couldn’t let go of each other. I knew the heartache that was about to unfold and it was horrific. I remember seeing Cory run after Leah’s car when she pulled out of the driveway. He stopped at the end of the road and watched the taillights fade into the distance. I’m sure he cried himself to sleep that night – I know I did.
The next morning Cory, Lexi and I packed up and started toward the highway. Cory said, “Mom…can you please drive by my school? I want to see it one more time.” As we arrived at the school, Cory was between me and the window. He pulled out his cell phone and, with shaking hands, snapped one last picture as the tears streamed down his face. The pain of knowing my husband and I were responsible for our son’s broken heart was absolutely excruciating.
This is a part of being a mom in a military family that no one prepares you for. It’s inevitable, though. We’ll all go through it and while the pain is severe, it will subside. Kids are resilient and they bounce back. It might take a week, a month, or a year, but it will happen. You just have to be strong, loving and patient.
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