Let me be honest, when my little brother Robert decided to drop his college scholarship and join the Marines, I wasn't exactly thrilled. He's a super smart kid and loves a challenge whether it's in school or in life. I guess it shouldn't of been such a surprise that he decided to join. Now that it's all said and done, I must say I'm one proud sister.
For me, the toughest part about Robert being away in boot camp for 3 months was the limited communication through only hand-written letters. At the same time, there was something I really loved about the old-fashioned way of communicating. I now have every letter saved in a keepsake binder that I'll cherish forever.
When the 3 months were finally over, we couldn't wait to see him. Erik, Matt (my oldest brother) and I hopped in the car and headed to Paris Island for Family Day (the day before graduation). One thing was ever present in my mind on the car ride there: Would he be the same person? I wondered if he would act different, if the old Robert I knew would be gone. To my relief, that wasn't the case at all! He's the same person... but with more discipline now.
The day began with a picnic lunch with the rest of our family. Robert wanted junk food, so I brought him honey buns. Robert had so many stories tell and we had just as many questions. After lunch, he gave us a tour of where he had been living for the past 3 months. Every place he showed us came with a story. Before we knew it, our time with him was over and he had to leave to prep for the next day's graduation ceremony.
The next morning , we got up early and headed to the parade deck. With the band playing and what looked like 500 new Marines marching in perfect synchrony, it was quite a site to see. After the ceremony ended, the crowds of loved ones rushed onto the the deck the see their Marine. It was such a great feeling knowing that Robert finally gets to come home... for 10 whole days.
Now that those 10 days are over, it's been tough because he's gone again. This time though, he can't write us letters and he didn't get to come home for Thanksgiving either. He'll graduate from Marine Combat Training (MCT) soon, and although he might not get to come home for Christmas, he should get his cell phone back. To me, this whole experience has really emphasized the necessity to cherish even the small things. Although the distance is difficult, I do think it's made our bond as brother and sister stronger.
I love you and miss you, brother. See you soon.
Family and Friends!
Pictures from Roberts time at Parris Island