I never thought the day would come when I would be faced with saying goodbye to my youngest daughter. It’s not a verbal goodbye and maybe that’s where some of the emotional difficulty plays a part. It’s been over nine years since we’ve spoken and yet it seems like it’s not been that long.
I recently received a text from my daughter. I wish I could say it was a positive experience. It was truly the most hateful message I’ve ever received from her. I’m not completely certain as to why she chose now to unleash this hatred toward me. I’m told she is disturbed and that she is still dealing with issues from the past. However this doesn’t excuse her behavior toward me.
Prior to her “disappearance”, we had, what I thought, was a healthy, friendly relationship. She had moved out and into an apartment downtown. She seemed happy and content and I was happy for her. She always seemed quite independent and confident she would and could make it on her own and I had no doubt. She eventually moved to another state, which was only a 90 min drive for me and there were times she asked me to come visit or to help her with something and I was happy to be there for her.
Then came the day she enlisted in the army. I grew up in a military and law enforcement family and I knew it took a certain level of strength; emotionally and physically and I hate to admit it, but I truly didn’t believe she was equipped with what is required for the military. Her father downplayed her decision quickly, emphatically stating she shouldn’t do this and that he knew it wasn’t the right thing for her to do. As much as I wanted to intervene, I kept quiet and I hugged her and told her that I’d be here for her no matter what.
Some time passed and she asked me to come with her to the bank so she could place me on her account, so that I could take care of her finances while she was in boot camp. Once that was taken care of, we talked about the army and what her job choices were. I was surprised to learn she was going in to train for MP. She seemed confident and yet a bit unsure of how all this would play out. I was proud of her for making these larger than life decisions.
The first letter from Ft Leonardwood came and I became a bit anxious. By this time I had been dealing with her father and his “I’ve heard from God” crap about our daughter and I snapped back and said, “for too many years, you denied she was your child and now you want to behave as though you are the all knowing Dad of the year”? Unbelievable. Of course, I didn’t hear the end of that for quite some time.
I missed her first call and her voicemail broke my heart. She had not been there but maybe a couple of weeks and she was scared. The why didn’t come until her next call. She told me she had an anxiety attack during some training and was instructed to go see the doctor. I don’t know who made the decision, but they decided to discharge her and concluded that she was not mentally well. Not crazy, but not fit for the military. I assured her she’d be fine and I’d be waiting to hear when she’d be on her way home. Those two weeks turned in to a month and then 6 weeks passed and I called her Sgt to find out what was going on. I was met with a harsh attitude and not much was accomplished during that call. Her next call to me was even more disturbing and I told her to be patient as I was working on a way to get her home.
I had a good friend, who was a commander in the Navy and I called and asked for his help. Ironically, the “head man” at Ft Leonardwood, was a good friend of his and as I explained what was going on with my daughter, he said to give him a couple days and he’d call me back. It didn’t take as long. He called me the next day and gave me a private number to fax some info to the General. I faxed a letter asking for help to get my daughter out of discharge and back home. That same day, I received a call from the LT and he stated the General would see to it that my daughter would be out of there in a few days. He asked me a few more questions and as we spoke, he was clearly upset by what had been happening in their discharge processing Dept. I told him I was more than grateful but also knew that they didn’t know me from eve so I wasn’t going to hold my breath. He assured me that all would be well.
It was a day or two later that she called me and said, “Mom, I’m on my way home”. I was shocked and so very happy.
She decided to stay at our house instead of going back to her apartment right away. I agreed that she needed some time to readjust and to try and get her short military experience out of her system. It wasn’t easy.
A week after she arrived back home, the General called me to check on my daughter. With all the thousands of personnel he has to deal with, he was concerned about my daughter, enough to call. I simply told him, she was resting and doing as well as can be expected. He thanked me for all the information I and my daughter provided him with in regards to his discharge Dept and told me that if I or my daughter ever needed anything else, to call him. Incredible.
I suppose, considering all this and many other situations, I assumed we were close and she trusted me.
I’m told she’s angry about the past and specifically with me over the issues with her father.
I’m not sure how to interpret this as she won’t speak with me. This year, in September, will be 10 years and I’ve finally reached the point of saying goodbye.
Sometimes, as parents, we find ourselves grieving for our child and yet they are still living.