A lot has changed; editor prepares for 12-week absence

A+lot+has+changed%3B+editor+prepares+for+12-week+absence

We’ve all heard the expression “a lot can happen in one day.” Well, a lot can change, too. Sunday marked the last day my boyfriend, Jason, would see his family and mine for three months until he graduates from the United States Marine Corps boot camp.
I’ve been through this process before with my now brother-in-law two summers ago. Carly had reiterated all the regulations of Air Force basic training when Riley shipped out.
No phones. No computers. No contact except through handwritten letters. And then there are rules about the letters: no drawing on the envelopes or spraying them with perfume or sealing them with a kiss.
All of which I’m thinking “no problem.” All that kissy stuff seems cheesy to me, no matter how in love you are. Carly was OK with it too, for the most part.
Only now I’m the girlfriend in the situation instead of the girlfriend’s sister. I spent the entire weekend with Jason and his family.
His mother cooked Thanksgiving dinner pretty much singlehandedly Saturday night and took us all out to breakfast the next morning. She is pretty amazing and her pumpkin pie is good too, not to mention she’s raised three tough, but well-mannered men.
Jason’s brothers are both well through college and established in the workplace. Being with his family is more like being at school than being at my house. Everyone’s older than us and the banter is nonstop. I’m convinced Jason got his sense of humor from his dad, even if he hates to admit it.
My house is pretty much the opposite. All of my siblings are younger and the range is much greater, so I have to kind of adjust what I talk about with each one.
Considering those two sides of the story, you can probably predict how our families reacted to each other Sunday afternoon. My parents carted the kids to the Stiglitz Mountain Paradise minus Carly to share Jason’s goodbyes.
Everybody was doting on Rachel, my youngest sister, and trying to learn the names of the other four kids before his recruiter’s car came up the driveway.
After going through what can only be described as an expressway on the five stages of grief that afternoon, it was nice to bring the kids in.
Jason and I spent an hour and a half in denial and frustration packing the last of his things and straightening his room up. He kept saying he didn’t know what to feel.
I sat on the edge of the bed that used to be his brother’s feeling half-hearted and helpless. His mom would come in and lose her voice over involuntary crying. It was like that room caused the inescapable emotion, not the fact that things were setting in.
We found acceptance once we took Jason’s mom’s advice and went outside. If the scenery didn’t numb worry, the cold numbed everything else. We were OK after that until his recruiter came to the door.
I think my youngest brothers took it the hardest. Josh was excited to give his hug until he saw everyone else crying. Before we left for home across the river, Jason’s dad asked if my parents were taking me back to school.
“We’re learning this is different than taking them back to school, where they can still come home and talk to you,” he said.
My 13-year-old sister teased me, asking if we were going to write love letters the way Carly and Riley did.
“I guess,” I said. “But we’re Kelsey and Jason – not Carly and Riley.”
I’m not looking forward to 12 weeks of giving up talking to the guy I’ve been talking to for nearly seven months, but writing letters and planning a trip to base when he graduates should be fun.
KELSEY GHERING
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