Today as I stood in my returning missionary son’s bedroom, checking it over and over to see if it is now ready to welcome him out of his Spiritual World and back into “real life”, so many questions, memories, and emotions flooded my mind and heart.
Do his “civilian” shirts in the bulging closet still smell like his cologne? Will he still want those shoes? Is he going to be a NEAT FREAK now (….ha – fooling myself on that one)? Will he be thrilled to see his stack of dvds and cds and sports poster collection? How will his bed feel to him when he sleeps there again for the first night home? Will we stay up late at night learning all we can about the last two years of his life? How much older will we look to him? How much older will he look to us? Can he adjust to the changes his parents and sister have had to make because of the unexpected challenges thrown our way?
How long will he yearn for the people he has grown to love?
Is his testimony now solid enough to aid him in enduring what lies ahead?
Being a returned missionary myself, I know he will feel a little lost and alone for a while. When I came home after my mission, I couldn’t even pick out shoes for myself so I dragged my friend Michelle along with me to the mall. I was pretty depressed during my first semester back at BYU. I of course don’t want him to face that. Yet, it is likely that he will to some degree.
We have encouraged him at every opportunity to throw himself into “the work”, to give it everything he had. We carefully selected our words and our stories in our letters. We bore testimony and spoke of gratitude for his service, for we knew of the blessings that have come to our family because of his service. We paid close attention to details to be sure we were not adding to the possibility of “trunkiness”. With that comes the fact that coming home may be a lot harder to adjust to than if we had not been so careful with our words. Is that so bad? I don’t think so.
I would still choose it the same way. Still….I fret a bit.
As I stood in there today, the transformation from temporary storage room back to his bedroom nearly complete, I could not really define the feelings so close to the surface. Standing in there two years ago, all I felt was loss and sadness. How would I get through two years of walking by that room, a hundred times a day, without completely falling apart? Did I teach him ENOUGH? Of course I was thrilled that he had chosen to serve the Lord full-time in His army, but as a mother – my heart ached for my baby boy. It was a similar ache to what I felt when he left for his freshman year of college. Two years ago, though, I knew he would not come home as a college kid ever again, really.
Now he would be a man.
Only 9 days away from his return, I wonder where the time has gone, his room preserved as it had been for years. Does it now seem like he just left? In some ways, admittedly, yes, it does.
In MOST ways, it was a very long two years.
More questions took over my mind about his future - How will I let him leave us again in a few short weeks to return to school? Next time he comes home, will he have met his future eternal sweetheart? Once he leaves again, it won’t be the same – ever. He is a man now. He will be ready to start his own full life of excitement, challenge, love, money- managing and earning, difficulties, sadness, progress, and at times, triumph!
In spite of all those racing thoughts, I stopped to realize that truly, honestly, I am happier than I have been in months and months. And, what a blessing it is to always be his mom.
What will HE teach US now? I can’t wait to find out.