Photo: Courtesy of Bob Peterson Photography
I have written on this before. Yes – 2020 is the year of the anomaly for so many reasons. Change is the one word that describes 2020 for me. Change in expectations, in plans, in the future of things, of hellos and goodbyes, and in our journey.
Who would have thought at the beginning of this year that began with wind in our sails, that there would be so much unfinished business? We took our lead from our then-Mid and adapted to circumstances beyond our control without skipping a beat. Sure, I had my own temper tantrum. After all, our Mid had worked so hard and overcome so very much only to have the closure of Commissioning Week taken away – a least for us. Our Mid was fine, but I have to admit that I did go into mourning fora few days when our daughter told us she was fine and had moved on to the next thing (see my blog post, “ A Heart in Tatters “). We took strength from her resolve and allowed Semper Gumby to take over. Don’t get me wrong, there were many silver linings in the virtual Commissioning that would not have happened otherwise, but as the ACYear unfolds, there is a small sadness that has returned: unfinished business.
Thankfully for our Class of 2020 then-Firsties, closure came with their return to the Yard for their Oath of Office. They were able to pack up their rooms, say goodbye to classmates and good friends, they went to the Midstore one “last” time, and were able to say goodbye to Mother B and the Yard.
For us as parents, it was different. I longingly looked at our Yard access card, Midstore card, and Naval Academy Club card that we never got to use one “last” time with the expiration date that jumped out at me: June 15, 2020. As I removed them from my Yard bag and put them away never to be used again, I also remembered putting the Yard bag together after I had forgotten to bring our Yard access card during one of our first visits – I vowed that would not happen again on my watch! I carefully planned everything that I could possibly need to have at my fingertips each time we visited our Mids: All Yard related cards, Shout wipes, extra battery with cable, Navy Federal cards, business cards, club and BGO name tags, Bean Rush punch card (have to have my coffee!), my N*avy reading glasses, and more. How I fit it all of that in my 8 x 6 x 1 inch Spartina purse (one of my first Midstore purchases), I will never know. Going through my bag really stung in an unexpected way.
I thought earlier this month that I could renew my Naval Academy Club membership but with the Yard closed to the public, now is not the time. And the wound opened up all over again. I am not sure if it will ever truly heal until we have the opportunity to return and say our proper goodbyes. My heart also went out to the Class of 2021 that missed Ring Dance, the Class of 2022 that missed 2/C Parents Weekend this ACYear, and the class of 2023 that missed their Herndon climb, and the Class of 2024 with a modified I-Day and Plebe Summer. We have all missed something this year – a highlight or a milestone of the “typical” journey and it leaves me, at least, with a deep sense of longing.
For the classes that remain at the Academy, I am sure and I DO hope that you will have opportunities to make up for lost time. For 2020 that time is past and now look toward the next phase in the journey as a Naval parent. Fortunately, we are seasoned with our ‘17 grad post deployment, but with our new Officer being in a new service community, we begin on unfamiliar ground all over again and depending on those that have gone before us once again.
I am thankful to the USNA leadership for doing their best to make the best of these trying and different circumstances, but for me and my husband, although we have accepted the circumstances and have done our very best at being Semper Gumby, we still feel the uncertainty and the sense of having “unfinished business” – no closure, no chance to say goodbye, to walk on the Yard one last time with our Mid, to shop in the Midstore, to go to Chapel service and Glee Club concerts, watch the last parade (not a Mid favorite – I know!), and so much more.
All in all we consider ourselves fortunate – we were able to enjoy a wonderful four full years with our first. And we did have a very blessed journey with our second. Can’t complain! So where do we go from here?
All USNA families walk in a long line of warrior parents that have come before and had to adapt and overcome – sometimes in the worst case of circumstances. We have learned to let things go – but it still comes back to haunt at times. Yet the important thing is to remain hopeful, to pray for God’s peace in all circumstances (hard – I know!), and to support, empathize, and be there for each other as parents, having each other’s six – always – no matter what.
I will pack all of the “lack of closure” feelings neatly away in my Yard bag until the day when we can return and officially say goodbye. That will be a great day of celebration for my husband and I to finally have closure. In the meantime, we move ahead as our kids move ahead, and are there for them when they need us to help them move, to listen, to encourage, to dust them off and send them out again – just like Plebe year!
My main mission continues to be to “PAY IT FORWARD” and to contribute to our N*avy community for as long as God places that calling in my heart and as long as I am useful. I also hope to continue writing and using my creativity to make unique, beautiful, artistic items that celebrate our Navy spirit. And to our fellow parents, I am also here and am available to help, to answer questions, to just listen, to offer a shoulder to lean ont, to rejoice with you or to help carry the burden when challenges come along, and to give guidance and advice as we are able – these times are unfamiliar territory for us all!
These are not only unusual times but they are unique times – these are “firsts” that we are all living and I am proud and glad to see all of our current USNA parents, Midshipmen, and Plebes adapting and growing despite the circumstances.
Our heartfelt prayers go out to all of the families that come after us: Please know that you are appreciated, valued, and loved! I so can relate to this unique journey that our kids have decided to embark upon and if I have learned anything, it is that in all things we are learning and preparing, developing strength and flexibility beyond what we can imagine for the things to come in the next step of this adventure. I am with you all the way and just a message away if you ever need…
GO NAVY! BEAT ARMY!!