Today is no different from any other day. I think of you often, maybe more than I should, but being your mom gives me that right and privilege. Besides, I can just because I can.
As I was walking along this morning, I noticed squirrels playing around trees and one took off, scurried up a tree with the other one not far behind, climbing another tree. Determined the one was not going to do something without the other. Watching them scurry about reminded me of when you and Ryan were little. You always wanted to be where he was and doing whatever he was doing. You actually contrived in your little noggin that you were as big as he was and you should be able to do everything he could.
For example, when you were barely 4 and he was almost 6, you were angry because be could tie his own shoes and you couldn’t. Boy, did you put your heart and soul into learning how to tie your shoes. One particular morning, you promptly descended from the car as normal and headed up the stairs to go into preschool. As I looked back to watch you walk up the stairs, I noticed you stopped abruptly. Plopping yourself smack in the middle of the stairwell because your shoe was untied and you were determined to tie it. Knowing full well how this would end, I pulled my car into a parking space and headed over to you. The frustration meltdown had already begun, tears bursting from the sides of your eyes and the look of sheer defeat on your face. You said, “I’ll never learn how to tie my shoe. Never. Never. Never.” Finally, when you calmed down and took your time, you were able to tie your shoe. Sobs of defeat had turned into cheers of jubilation. “I did it. I did it. I can tie my shoes just like Ryan.”
Sometimes, I didn’t know if it was your stubbornness or sheer determination that always propelled you to excel at anything you set your mind to, maybe a combination of both. Your stubbornness gave you the drive and your determination saw it through completion. So, it’s no wonder that you are where you are today.
You have such a big kind heart for people, especially your family. You have always made time to cultivate and maintain relationships with all you love. I remember last year when Papaw found out he had Stage 4 lung cancer. You knew you were going to be out to sea for awhile and you also knew his prognosis wasn’t promising. You struggled to decide whether to come home or just wait it out. During one of our conversations you said, “Mom, it’s Papaw. He’s a fighter and I know he’ll fight this but statics are not in his favor. So, I’ve decided that I am going to come home because I won’t regret it either way. If something happens to him while I’m gone, I’ve seen him. If it doesn’t that’s even better.” Thankfully your XO pulled all the stops and got leave approved so you could come home. What a blessing it was for us all. Your presence is like a soothing balm or like a warm blanket on a bitterly cold day.
You have such a gift for bringing joy and entertainment. As a child you constantly wanted me to entertain you because you were always bored. In your mind, you fashioned me as your ticket for entertainment. Remember that one time, when you were probably 9 or 10 and I looked at you and said, “Matthew, God put me on this earth to entertain you. He put me here to love and take care of you. If you want to be entertained, go entertain yourself.” As always, you took me very literally because that how your mind works. By the time you were 15, you were entertaining folks with your amazing magic card tricks. You worked hard and diligently to train yourself. In fact, you entertained many folks at Ci-Ci’s pizza on Monday evenings, landed a few gigs for Relay for Life and even got yourself a nice write-up in the Times-News. Ironically, the one who wanted to be entertained became the entertainer.
Your passion for God and people always fascinated me. You always took up for the underdog. You always sought out those who seemed helpless. You were always, always comfortable in your own skin and you never shied away from sharing your faith. You didn’t have to follow the crowd. You could lead one. I don’t even think you realize the difference you made in the life of others. I sure hope they tell you one day. I know you’ve made a big difference in mine.
You always had a knack for seeing beauty in everything, you always took time to smell the flowers.
Your adventurous spirit has taken you to many places in Europe and even Australia, not on Navy time. You even took a helicopter ride to the Great Barrier Reef and swam with the sharks and bungee jumped at one of the scariest places I’ve ever seen. Survived it all. Fully anticipating the next great adventure.
And now, you’re on one of the biggest adventures of your life. A deployment. I don’t even know where you are and probably don’t want to know. I know you’re in deep, deep waters and I know there is a level of safety there. Here’s what I am sure of….”You will never go where God is not.” Max Lucado Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and he will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Which is the reason for my hope. I’m not just clinging to a lofty idea, I am hanging on every word of God because I know it to be Truth.
So, while I wait and hope and pray, believing that God has you “engraved in the palms of his hands” Isaiah 49:16 and , “The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.” Psalms 121:5
When you read this, which won’t be until you’re in port or finished with deployment and wonder why in the world I didn’t send it directly to you. First, it’s far too long for an email. They’re suppose to be short. Second, I could simply print it off and mail it to you, but who knows how long that would take to get to you. Simply put, I want to make sure as soon as your feet hit dry ground you know how deeply loved and special and unique you are and it’s really ok in book, if others know that too. Besides, let’s go back to Ryan’s infamous quote, “Because I can. That’s why.”
Also I want to give to hope to other mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children etc that there is this crazy mom in North Carolina who prays for their loved ones the same way I pray for you. Not only do I pray for their loved ones, but I pray also for them because I know what it’s like to want a word. One word just to know all is well. It’s called praying strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
And so today, will end like every short version of my email. Guess what? Today is one day closer till I get to see your face again. That makes my heart very happy.
I love you,