It has been a while since I posted, but time has moved too quickly and my life has been in fast motion.
In my previous post, I mentioned once at TLF I would post again. Unfortunately, the TLF has no internet connection (phone or cable) and the time flew by so quickly it cannot be considered a vacation.
We arrived at at the base at around 8:30 pm. It was very dark. Check in was flawless due to the preparation information I had received from the message boards. The guard at the gate gave us instructions for get to TLF, I believe it was along the lines of right, left, right. In the dark, it is not that easy. When I say dark, I mean DARK! No street lights, nothing. And to make matters worse their street signs are not the reflective kind most people are used to. They are concrete post with engraved names on them. We accidentally found the TLF after my husband said he saw light and he felt, if it was light it could mean activity. It was! The almost ONLY street light was in the motel (TLF) parking lot. I guess for what we were there for it was ok, but it definitely was not an updated facility. As a matter of fact I don't think the place has had any changes (other than the sheets) since it was built in the 50-60's. My husband commented that you couldn't even call it a motel 6, more like a motel 2 1/2. Not that it was dirty or unkempt, just raw.
On Wednesday, I got up early and drove around, took some pictures and got a feel for the base. I went back to get Forrest and Andrew and we went to the Golf course for breakfast. It was decent food. The history surrounding this island I think was a big surprise to me. It is steeped in history and pride. Rebekah arrived around midday.
We took so many pictures we had to go back and download them before heading to the parade deck to watch the recruits practice. I had read that they would practice on the Wednesday before family day between 3-4 pm. We arrived at about 2:35pm, and there they were. I spotted Tim immediately. So TALL. So skinny! He was in perfect formation. I don't think he spotted us immediately but he definitely did when Andrew ran along side of the platoon as it marched. He kind of slightly shook his head and laughed. After that the excitement in my chest was a pressure to build as the days went on.
That evening we went to Beaufort and ate dinner at JP's. This is a very hospitable diner. The owner came and spoke personally to us and welcomed and congratulated us. It was a very pleasant time. It was pouring rain as we left and headed back to the base. Martin and Amanda went to another restaurant because we didn't know where we would go at the time.
Thursday came, and I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. We got to the parade grounds around 5:45 am. Of course it was raining and the bleachers were wet. I had brought a towel aong but it was insufficient for the task. Once our butts absorbed all the moisture we huddled under our giant umbrella. It was so dark. But here they came. Not that we could see them, but we HEARD them. The pounding of their feet and the cadence of their voices was a very daunting experience. They halted on the parade deck and jogged or bounced in place until I thought I would go mad waiting for this to get underway. We couldn't see where Tim was because of the darkness. Then they were off. You could still hear them even when they were blocks away. The time flew. Before long they were headed back and you could feel the pounding of the pavement beneath your feet. I strained to seek Tim out and could not. Martin said he got a good shot of him. I saw a quickie freeze frame, but to me it didn't look like him. We later played it back on the TV and sure enough it was Tim. He was one on the "orange vest" runners. These runners have speed on their side and race ahead to block traffic for the rest to come through. Then they race to the next spot ahead of the pack.
We had to be back at the indoor stadium for the EGA awards at 1:00pm. We got there around 11:00 to hear the CO talk and then it started filling up with ceremony crowds. We nexteled Josh and the rest to tell them to come on. The place was PACKED by the time they got there. People were sitting on the stairs.
This ceremony will forever be in my mind and the moment I first I got to touch Tim in three months. The pinning ceremony was AWESOME! When it was over and they dismissed the new Marines for family day, we were sitting on the top of the bleachers and the race and flood of people kind of intimidated me so I froze for a few moments. Once I felt I could get down the stairs safely, I proceeded. On the floor of the stadium there were folding chairs lined up for additional seating. They blocked my way. I can remember tossing them away as I forge ahead toward my goal. TIM. When we reached each other, time froze and all I could think of was, God, please stopped time and let me just look at him. Then he hugged me and I lost it. I cried. He cried. I couldn't let him go. It took several minutes for the rest of the family to come back into focus. Then, it was Forrest's turn. He and Tim hugged and I saw Forrest crack. He was barely containing it.
We went outside to begin our "family day". My camera still clicking. We walked back to the car and I couldn't stop the questions. Tim said for us to go out to the rifle range for our picnic. So we did. The time flew. I panicked several times because I knew there were certain things Tim wanted to do with us that day and everyone seemed to be happy to just kick back and take a load off. My nerves were raw. The wind was blowing and pieces of trash kept blowing off the picnic table. Mason and Madison seemed to be caught up in the excitement and were rambunctious. Everything seemed larger than it was. I lost my composure and snapped at people. I was worried about Tim enjoying his day, getting to do what he wanted and how everyone was wanting to take him away from me. I totally lost it. Then the family grumbles ricocheted and we all realized about the same time that Tim was standing there grinning from ear to ear. When he realized he had our attention, he shook his head and said, "God, I've missed this" and we finally relaxed. The family arguments are deeply rooted in us and I guess he needed to feel at "home", so we had obliged.
We finally got back on the road and went to the MCX (PX) and then on to the museum. We spent an enormous amount of time there. It was exhausting.
We got Tim back to his barracks on time. He raced off to get in. My heart stopped as I watched him go. When we got back to the TLF we realized Rebekah had a flat on her car. We were all too tired to mess with it then.
I will write more later. I have to run.
But I am still praying, praying, praying.