A sailor should get used to saying goodbye to loved ones....but I doubt that they really do.
I am grateful to live in modern times, when I don't have to wait for the postman to deliver the long awaited letters from my sailor son. Now, he calls me on his cell phone while he stands in the hangerbay as they pull into port. While at sea, he sends an occasional email, his lifeline to the rest of the world. The only thing that hasn't changed in a sailor's life over the decades is the lonliness of being out to sea, and the boredom of nothing to do in what little spare time he has while out there. Already he is loosing touch with his friends from home. Even with email and cell phones, lives of one-time good friends begin to drift apart as they go their seperate ways. A hard lesson for any young soul to endure.
Once our bags were packed and stowed away, we drove away from our temporary beach front home, found something for breakfast and headed back to base. Eric had stayed the night with us in the motel, allowing him time to goof off with his brothers and feel like a part of a family, again.
We stood there in the parking lot, looking at the monsterous ships in full daylight for the first time from that perspective. Wow!
We were all silently dreading actually saying goodbye and parting again, already. So we just stood a little longer, watching as runners went by in a 9k Fleet Week run, and said very little.
We had a long drive ahead of us, again, and we didn't want to be getting back too late. So soon the brave hugs came, and the tearless goodbyes. We watched our son, once a boy, now a man, head back to the ship that will one day take him half way around the world. The ship that will take him to places my eyes will never see, and make him more strong and more brave than even I could have.
It was so good to be with him again, to see how much he's changed, and also how little! It was music to my soul to hear him laugh again with his brothers, to hear his voice, to wrap my arms around his neck one more time and tell him I love him and how proud I am of him.
I was now glad, for another reason, that I had gotten up so early that morning and spent so much time in the fresh air. I was tired...and I was ready to sleep, and not just sit for 600 miles staring out the window and think about leaving our son behind.
Driving out of Norfolk was easier than driving in. The traffic was much better and we were out of there in no time. We went back through the tunnel and over the bridges, only this time, it wasn't as exciting.
I think I was asleep before we were even out of town. I woke up a couple hours later and I saw mountains, again, through the windshield. I didn't take many photos on the way home. I slept most the way. I got just a couple, not so good photos, near a little gas station where we stopped for a rest and a few snacks.
The mood driving home wasn't as festive either. We now knew it could be after Christmas before we would see Eric again. That seemed like forever!