Monday, December 14, 2015
Sending off a Missionary: It Gets Better
Christian and I had to cheer people up and talk positively about the wonderful step Sam was taking. I think it was harder for the kids than for me because I had been hardcore grieving Sam's departure for months. At the airport I was worried because Sam seemed nervous to be traveling all alone. On our way out we saw a dapper missionary and I asked him where he was headed. "Birmingham, England."
"You'll meet my son on the plaaaaaaaaaane!" I called to him as I ascended the escalator. I knew they'd meet at the gate and Sam would have at least one traveling buddy. (As it turns out, he had many. They picked up missionaries all the way to England.) We had $100 gift card to Market Street Grill so we went there for breakfast after we left the airport and let everyone order whatever they wanted. Christian went to work and the rest of us went to bed to cry and sleep all day. We only came out when dear, wonderful, thoughtful angels rang our doorbell to bring us treats. I hope I remember to return the kindness. It's like having a baby—you don't know the ways in which it will be hard or the kinds of things that will help you as a new mom. I feel like a jerk when I consider all of my friends who have sent off missionaries who I did nothing for. Now I know.
despair I felt is gone. I'm so glad. There's still a little PTSD there when I think about it. But mostly I'm happy, proud, appreciative, and so glad that he's doing what he's doing.
It's hard to describe, but I think I almost missed him more during those last few months of high school and the months before his mission than I do now. We weren't estranged or fighting, it was just an intense time where I had to nag him so much about homework, graduating from seminary, saving money, finishing his eagle, preparing for his mission, etc, etc, etc (typical stuff) while at the same time agonizing over how much I was going to miss him and wishing that our last few months could be spent in more meaningful ways that it was a little bit excruciating. I think it's growing pains. I'm eager and optimistic about being a mom to a young adult. But I guess there's an awkward kind of stretching before you get there. Honestly, leaving for a mission is a wonderful way to get through that part. As my little boy was preparing to leave, serving a mission felt like a big ask. But now? It feels like the best and least cruel way to get him grown up.
It's really fun and rewarding to have him on a mission. We hear from him on Mondays. He gets along with his companion, has joined a choir, and has an investigator committed to baptism—This is not common in his area of Yate. If you're wondering about Yate, just remember the Doctor Who episode where the TARDIS became tiny and Rigsy the graffiti artist was painting people who disappeared—that was filmed in Yate. Sam is there too. So far, so good.
My friend Jill, who has 3 returned missionaries and one leaving in a year, says she actually misses being a "missionary mom" now that her boys are home. I'll probably be the same way.