This photo was taken on July 17, 2011. UP to this point, I had known that Jacob wanted to join the Marines. Because he was a year younger than everyone in school, I had to sign him over to the Marine Corps. He graduated at 17 so he wasn’t old enough to join yet. Crazy, right? But, I signed the papers.
On July 15, 2011, I wrote the following on Facebook:
My mind is simply not on work today. It’s on the upcoming weekend, and what that means. I KNOW I keep talking about this, but it’s a HUGE change in all our lives. It’s like an emotional roller coaster – really cool around the curves, but topsy-turvy when it goes upside down! I am so proud of my son, and so proud of my daughter. They mean everything to me!
I wasn’t ready to let him go, but at the same time, I knew I had to watch him start on his own journey. I remember my heart being broken because I just didn’t think I’d had enough time with him yet. He was only 17. Jacob and Judy (my daughter) had gone to see their Dad in Wisconsin prior to Jacob leaving for the Marines. I just remember knowing that time was slipping away from me.
The photos above are from when Jacob and Judy returned from their Dad’s house, and I picked them up from the airport. My best friend, at the time, was with me. The journey was just beginning. Watching Judy hang on to Jacob broke my heart a little. I knew that she was going to miss him fiercely. He had been her protector her entire life, even more so than me, at that point. No matter what, her big brother was always there for her, and now he was leaving. I cried a lot that evening, but not for myself. For Judy mostly. Moms have to let go of their children and watch them start their own lives. I didn’t know how to explain that to Judy, and I didn’t know how to tell her I wasn’t sure I could be what she needed. I was terrified I was going to FAIL her. I already felt I’d failed both of them at this point, and was thankful that Jacob had an escape plan. Judy had the rest of high school to go! I just hoped I could get my crap together. I was with the guy that abused me, and I just didn’t know how to get away yet. It wasn’t long after that I figured it out, but even after I left him, he was still “around” for some time before Judy and I could really breathe again. AND, I had “broken up” with him before and it hadn’t stuck. The time was coming. But at this time, he and I were together, and he was behind the camera in the first photo.
On July 17, 2011 (Facebook), I said “In 2 hours, we leave to take Jacob to start the greatest adventure! His own journey in life to triumph, grow, learn, go through hard times, the best times, accomplishment, everything. I’ll be standing by him every step of the way. Major milestone! And I’m So proud of him!”
I wrote most of the posts in regards to him joining the Marines holding my breath and trying to keep from crying. I felt PROUD, and sad, and I prayed that years down the line, he would be able to look back with some kind of happiness about his childhood. I don’t today if he does look back and have some happiness. I have always been so aware of how my mistakes in my personal affected my children.
On July 17, 2011, I also wrote on Facebook: Off he goes! One more time to see him tomorrow! Off to San Antonio in the morning for his swearing-in ceremony. But, as of right now, he’s in their care and on his way to San Antonio with the rest if the recruits!
Leaving him at the recruiter’s office was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I trusted them, but I wished I had ore time. All our lives were about to change forever!
Again on July 17, 2011, I wrote: Jacob with his game face on! Sgt bragged About him to everyone in the room, saying the staff at headquarters said Jacob got the highest scores they’ve ever seen! They are so proud of him, too! They are honored to have him.
Time for me and QT to get some sleep! Tomorrow we go to San Antonio for the last leg of our journey to see Jacob off! Weird Not having him here. And, I’m pretty sure it wont hit that he’s really gone until tomorrow! I get to take pics at his swearing-in ceremony. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for him. Thank you all for Your support so far! It’s amazing!
QT was Judy’s nickname, so you may see that and wonder. It’s my daughter, Judy.
On July 18, 2011, I wrote – My Marine! He’s on a plane right now….. long day…. just got home from San Antonio…. I cried as soon as we said our last goodbye. But I didn’t let him see me….. but QT hugged me……
That day was exhausting for me and Judy. Of course, it didn’t sink in that he was gone. That didn’t sink in until later that night when I was supposed to get the call from my son when he landed in San Diego. Instead, I wrote – REALLY????? I MISSED Jacob’s CALL BECAUSE MY PHONE ISNT WORKING RIGHT!!! wow….. hope he calls again! It was up all the way and I now have a missed call! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…….
Judy and I were devastated. WE both cried like we hadn’t cried in a long time. Reading these comments below to that post made me remember how blessed I was to have people who helped me.
Without the ability to go back in time with Facebook, I wouldn’t have remembered that these ladies were there for me on one of the hardest times of my life. I wonder if I properly helped Judy during that time. I just know I held her and felt so guilty because my phone didn’t ring. It was the worst feeling in the world.
On July 21, 2011, I wrote on Facebook – Talked to JCs Sgt. He says JC will be assigned his platoon tomorrow! And, we’ll have his address on Tuesday! Whoop! Just waiting….. ugh…. Waiting sucks!
I was finally able to post his address so we could all send letters. I wrote often. I can’t say I remember how often, but I suspect it was every other day, at least.
And then on July 29, 2011, I wrote on Facebook – I got a letter from my son today!!! Happy, but sad, because the first line was, “You missed my call. It’s not that big a deal, but it kinda surprised me.” Translation: I can’t believe you didn’t answer. This was written on the 20th before he got my letter explaining. But, he was sad about it. I hope he got that letter.
To this day, I still feel guilty about something I didn’t do wrong, but as a Mom, I just feel as if I failed. It’s been 7 years ago, but those emotions are easily pinged.
I carried his first letter with me because it meant he was OK, and I felt a little closer to him. I checked the mail every single day while he was in Boot Camp.
On July 31, 2011, I wrote – I know you will all get TIRED of me posting about my son, but it’s what’s going on in my life right now – no letter today. Check again tomorrow! On a wonderful note – Judy Carroll starts her practices for Vision tomorrow! I am so excited for her! AND so proud! I can’t wait to go to her games every Friday and watch her perform. Man – I have the best babies ever! They are awesome! I love you, QT.
I enjoyed all the letters I received from Jacob during his time in Boot Camp. I enjoyed the few phone calls he was allowed to make, and I was glad when it was time to watch him graduate!
He had some trials, though. On August 11, 2011, I wrote – It’s Thursday. Thinking of my son this morning. He has vasculitis and erythema multiforme. He says he’s doing better, and I know if it was serious, I would get a call from his SDI. So, I’m keeping him in my prayers and sending positive vibes his way. I talked to someone who made me feel better! You know who YOU are! Thank you! Still a worried Mom!
Despite the fact that he had these illnesses, he didn’t stop. He just kept right on going. He sounded awful. He could barely talk. I remember that so well because I wanted to take care of him. The below poem really touched my heart.
Boot camp days and Boot camp nights
We each take in a new world of sights
They see DI’s, sand pits and more,
We see the closet of clothes they wore
They learn to march and yell together
We walk the halls and pray them good weather.
They go up and over obstacles and back down again
We go through hurtles hoping our hearts will mend
They sleep in racks and jump up early
We don’t sleep at all because we worry
They eat chow and use the head
We remember the last thing they said
They carry a rifle and learn to drill,
We carry a smile but we miss them still
They wait for mail because they like to hear that it is them we hold so dear
They learn to bend and form a team,
We learn to sleep but not to dream
They go out on long long humps
We wish we could fix the bruises and bumps
Boot camp nights and Boot camp days
These are the recruits and the parents ways.
They march through and become Marines
We march through on Angel’s wings.
On August 12, 2011, I wrote on Facebook – Keep praying for Jacob. I’m hoping all these prayers and Good vibes will make their way to him. I know letters keep him positive. So, if You haven’t written him, take the time today. Also, you can write letters to recruits who aren’t getting letters and simply put those with Jacob’s and he’ll give them to the recruits not getting letters. If You need the address, please message me and I’ll give it to you!
In the midst of all of this Marine stuff, my daughter, Judy was growing up, too! She was always making me laugh. Still does. Here’s a glimpse:
On August 12, 2011, I posted the following:
Me: (surprised look on my face)
Me: Wow. There were red and green lights in the sky just now.
QT: Don’t do that. You freaked me out.
QT: The first thing that came to mind was a crocodile on the side of the building.
Me: Really? Uh. There’s no water. We live in an apartment.
We were also packing to move to another apartment. So Jacob goes to Boot Camp, we move and school starts – all within a couple months. It was a lot. And, all the while, I was with the guy who abused me. I never had any money. There were reasons for that, but I simply DON’T want to talk about it right now. I’m just thankful we all survived. I lost my best friend in the process, but I guess she wasn’t really my best friend if she’s not around anymore, right? That’s one of side of me. The other side of me understands, but is still hurt about it.
On August 16, 2011, I wrote on Facebook – Jacob has been promoted to Contract Private First Class E2. His goal is to walk out of boot camp a Lance Corporal. If anyone can get through pneumonia and vasculitis and erythema multiforme and move ahead like It’s nothing, he can certainly realize this accomplishment, too. Thanks for your continued support and prayers for my son!
I was so happy for him! I wasn’t surprised either. I so love looking at past Facebook. On August 18, 2011, I posted the below! (told she makes me smile)
On a funny note (sorry hunni): Judy and I are talking last night and we’re Just chatting and she is talking about people’s manuerisms….. needless to say, I cracked up. I said… what? What are manuerisms? She looked at me… I’m still laughing and I say….hunni, it’s mannerisms. I almost didn’t correct her. It was adorable.
This photo is still one of the most beautiful of Judy! It was when I realized she was growing into a young lady. It still gets me choked up. She was going through so much emotionally, having lost Jacob, and dealing with me and my relationship with the bad guy. I can’t go back, but I’m so THANKFUL that part of our lives is over.
I remember how I felt so clearly! I was excited to see him, hug him – TALK to him face to face. His Dad was also there, and that is the man you see in these photos. While we’ve been divorced since 1998, he was always there for the big events. He just wasn’t there on a daily basis. He moved to Chicago when Jacob and Judy were very small. Once graduation ended, it was time to come back to Texas. Judy, Jacob, Summer (his wife – that’s another blog by itself) and I came back to Texas, and Jacob had some time off before he had to go back. Jacob had changed. I was told it would be temporary. I believed it to be true. He was on edge, angry and seemed a little broken. But, that’s what the point of Boot Camp was – break them and build them back up. I hoped he would find himself again. He did. It took about 6 months, but he got there eventually. I honestly didn’t care how he was acting – I was just HAPPY to have him home for a little while. I couldn’t believe I would have to let him go again. He turned 18 in Boot Camp, so now I really had no rights to him. He was an adult in the eyes of the law. I missed him more than I could EVER put into words. It never gets better, by the way. I still miss him every day and he’s not lived with me since July 2011. He’s 24 now, and he has become quite a brilliant and talented young man. Below are photos from the time Jacob spent in Texas before going back to Monterrey, California.
On October 22, 2011, I wrote on Facebook – A retired Army Special Forces is in front of us waiting to check Summer in, and he gave Jacob a Bible and said it got him through the 29 years he served. He personalized it and wrote important verses. Uh. Wow. I’m trying my hardest not to cry. What a show of honor. He’s a retired Master Sargent! I’m always amazed at the support Jacob is shown. Thank you, MSG for your support of my son and his journey. I’m simply amazed. He took a picture of the me, Summer and Jacob to put in his prayer wall. I’m thankful.
(October 24, 2011) The Bible that the retired Army Master Staff Sargent gave Jacob the other day is now packed with Jacob’s stuff. This Bible was with this man every day for the last 29 years. Jacob took his pictures out of his new Bible and moved them to the retired Army MSG Bible…… it is proof that people can touch our lives with a simply gesture of kindness.
His last day with me was October 24, 2011. Below are those photos.
Looking back at this time had brought me peace. We all survived it. While I haven’t talked about him, he was ever present behind the scenes. He didn’t live with us, thank goodness. But, he controlled everything I did. He would tell you that isn’t the case, but isn’t that the trick? the GAME? It is. Wanna know a secret? I still worry that I’m the one who is wrong, yet I know better. It’s very confusing sometimes. No photos of him. That’s right.
October was always so hard because of him. During an October some time before that, I had gone out with another man. The bad guy and I weren’t together at the time, so I went out with one of my co-workers. It was poor judgement, BUT, I was so sad and felt so ugly. This guy made me feel young and pretty again. I wasn’t old by any means, but he was much younger than I. Anyway, I would call it a fling. Unfortunately, the bad guy told me I had betrayed him, and that I was a whore. That particular event happened back in 2006 or 2007 (I can’t remember which year – they both sucked horribly). I know where I was living, though. I remember that vividly. Anyway, he made sure every October after that was a nightmare. It didn’t matter that we weren’t together or that he was with someone else. None of that mattered. It ONLY mattered that I had somehow betrayed him. SO, the whole month of October was tainted. That’s also my birthday month, and he would deliberately ignore me or tell me I didn’t deserve anything on my birthday because I was a whore. That’s the nicest word he ever called me. So imagine trying to handle my son being home and trying to enjoy his time with the crap that the bad guy was doing. I just thought it was normal. I am so glad that’s over! I haven’t talked about this stuff with a therapist and I haven’t told these stories. It stresses me out a bit, but I think it’s important that I be honest. I went through so much, but so did my children. Despite my mistakes with this man, they are SUCCESSFUL, BEAUTIFUL young people who make me PROUD every single day!
Life was so dark and hard, and Jacob and Judy were the only things that kept me alive. I would NOT be here right now if not for them. If the bad guy been the only thing that mattered, I’d be dead. Period.
I’m looking at all my birthday wishes for 2011, and I remember thinking that it didn’t matter because he was going to make sure it was awful. I’m sure it was. I don’t remember what specifically happened in 2011, but I know many of the birthdays before sucked or were sad or he made sure I paid for everything I did that he hated. In 2011, I was working for an adoption agency in Austin, and that also kept me going. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the families and helping them unite with their children in other countries. It was rewarding and helped me learn to love life again. It was part of how I realized that getting away from him was a MUST. It was vital that I get away. We spent Thanksgiving with Mom in Salado. Those photos are below.
Judy and I were missing Jacob, and soon, we’d get to see him again in Seattle. Since he and Summer were together, he went to her parent’s house in Seattle, so I was able to get myself and Judy to Seattle and we stayed with my brother. I can’t remember who paid for me and Judy to get there, but I’m sure it wasn’t me. I was so incredibly poor that I can’t imagine I paid. But, I was thankful to be able to go! It was the only way I would see Jacob at Christmas time. AND I was ever thankful! Below are the photos from the Seattle Christmas trip.
On December 31, 2011, I wrote on Facebook –
Happy New Year’s Eve! Another year gone. This past year was one of so many transitions and milestones. Jacob graduated high school and joined the Marines. Jacob turned 18 in boot camp. I had to adjust to knowing he wouldn’t be with us anymore, and accepted my role as a fiercely proud Marine Mom! New friends came into my life from my Marine family, and together, we’ve gotten through. Judy also had to go through these changes,and together, we’ve carved out a different life. Also, in 2011, we moved to a wonderful apartment, close to Judy’s school. She entered her first year of high school. Had her first boyfriend (no kisses yet). She made the Vision dance team and handled the load of dance and schoolwork with grace and dedication. She turned 14, and quickly reminded me that when she’s 15, she wants her driving permit. She grew another inch, and became even more beautiful!
It was our first Thanksgiving and Christmas, and now New Year’s without Jacob. We traveled this year to San Diego to watch Jacob graduate from boot camp. Then we traveled to Seattle to visit my brother and his family, and spend time with Jacob on his leave.
For me personally, it’s been a steady year. I love my job. I live in a place I’m proud to call home, and I have 2 children who make me proud every single day! Hope youcan all look back on this year and smile. But, if you struggled, know that it can get better. Just keep the faith. 2010 and 2011 have been wonderful years, and the years before that were the hardest years of my life. It got better because I stood up and made changes and kept my faith
2011 was the year that began my fight back to myself – FOR ME AND MY CHILDREN. While Jacob was already gone, I wanted him to know me away from the bad guy. While this was concentrated on Jacob and him joining the Marines, it’s also just a small part of what was going on in my world. Thank you for reading!