Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goodbyes and Hellos

Yesterday, after one week of processing in Norfolk, VA I got on a bus at dawn and headed down to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina (Camp McCrady, to be specific) for two and a half weeks of training.

The last week was a good way to transition away from loved ones towards this new strange military life I will be living for the next year or so.

We were fitted for uniforms, went through endless rounds of medical (where I received every shot known to mankind....even though I already had most of them), got fitted for gas masks and sat through many many many briefs. All in all, it wasn't too bad, but I can certainly think of better ways to spend my time.
My good friend Bill Salvin surprised me in Norfolk for a few hours, as did my twin sister. It was really special to be able to see both of them, even if just for a couple of minutes.

Leila had dropped Conor and Jack off in the morning, so as soon as I was done checking out of the processing center we were able to spend time together as a family. We went to the PX so I could get a few last minute things and then went to the hotel in downtown Norfolk to spend the evening together. Great Mexican food and lots of laughter. I was amazed at my ability to sleep soundly! At 5:20, the wake up call came and it was show time.

When we got back to the processing site, we were delighted to be greeted by a bunch of civilians who had made us goodie bags for the ride. The fact that these folks got out of bed at the crack of dawn to greet us and wish us well was incredibly nice. There was also a group of Harley Davidson riders with American flags greeting us, they also led the caravan as we left the base. What a great send off!

Saying good bye to Conor and Jack was emotional, as I knew it would be....

Conor was great. All smiles and very supportive. He kept asking for groups hugs and was just very upbeat about the whole thing. When it came time to say good bye to Jack, I handed him an envelope with my diamond earrings and my engagement ring. It's been 15 years since I've taken that ring wasn't easy. (There is no way I am parting with the wedding band, though. No way. No how.) Jack and I hugged and quickly said good was just easier, because I could just tell that we were both about to lose it.

Then I got on the bus and hit the road. 8 hours later, or thereabouts, we arrived at Ft. Jackson. The bus ride really wasn't that bad. I had a good book to read and plenty of time to think.

I thought a lot about how much I love my family, and how lucky I am to have the world's greatest child and husband. They've been with me every step of the way and shown enough humor and levity to make things a lot easier. How lucky am I??

Arriving at Camp McCrady was like stepping back in time. Seriously. This camp is circa 1942, as is the bedding I was issued for my 'rack'. We are living in mixed rank open bay barracks, just like boot camp for those of you who have gone through that. I think I lucked out, as I seem to be on the quiet end of the building. In a stroke of near genius, I packed an eye mask and ear plugs...they came in very handy last night.

I'm still adjusting to everything and am sort of on sensory over load. I'll have more to share tomorrow, once our training starts in earnest.


  1. you are an amazing woman, karen hyland! you continue to impress me, and i am in awe of your sweet love story.

    i'll be thinking of you.


  2. Thanks JJ!

    Keep Austin warm for me.


  3. Karen - there are few people who would handle this situation with as much grace and determination as you. Good luck and I'll be following you all the way. Rock it, girl!