In those 16 years, I have been honored to meet and be friends with some pretty amazing people, and experience some pretty wonderful things, in some pretty beautiful places.
Jason swore into the Navy in November, 1999, way back when we were expecting our fourth child, and prior to the US being at war again. He was a reservist then, but was able to go Active Duty in February, 2001, and our present adventures kicked off then.
Prior to Jason getting into the Navy, we were barely scraping by in Columbia, SC. At various times, he worked two or three jobs, and I was working and trying to keep up with a house and whichever of the kids were babies at the time. It was HARD. Right before he swore in, we had a car repossessed, and our house went into foreclosure. Thankfully, we were able to sell the house before the foreclosure was completed, and we moved in with my brother in Edgefield. There were a lot of years of minimal or no health insurance, and very small Christmases, but we were geographically close to both of our families, and they helped out a LOT.
The opportunity of being in the military was one Jason had looked forward to for a LONG time. He had planned to go straight into the Marine Corps immediately after high school, but injuries to his knees meant that it was not to be. When his father found a back door to enable him to get into the Navy, he jumped at the opportunity.
The first step after being accepted to active duty was going to a training school for the Supply Corps, in Meridian, MS. Graduation was scheduled for April 4, 2001...Jason's 28th birthday.
The kids and I hadn't seen him since early February, and were excited to begin this new adventure. We planned to drive from Edgefield, SC, to Meridian, MS, on March 30th. Two nights before, all six of us (myself, my brother James, and my 4 children) were up all night with food poisoning. Still recovering, I piled myself and four kids, and our luggage into our car, and drove the 8 hours to Meridian on the 30th.
During our time on the base in Meridian, a lot of firsts happened...I obtained my first military ID card, had my first experiences at a base commissary, a base car care place, and a base clinic. I was PETRIFIED that I would make a wrong turn and go somewhere I wasn't allowed to be.
Soon after arrival, I developed a sore throat, and general malaise, which Jason attributed to the new environs, where "everyone gets sick" upon first arrival. Graduation was Wednesday morning, after which we planned to drive to his next duty station in Texas, to check in, and do some house-hunting before driving back to South Carolina to finish packing and attend my brother's wedding on the 21st. Prior to leaving Meridian, however, we made one last stop at the clinic, where the doctor diagnosed strep, gave me a shot of penicillin and some throat lozenges, and said he wanted to see me back on Friday. Ha!! When I told him that we were leaving to drive to TX, he said to check in with the clinic in Texas when we arrived.