Finding Support and Communication

Stefani Vader
May 19 · 4 min read
Photo by Mikaela Wiedenhoff on Unsplash

Waiting for that first letter from my son, a soldier-in-training at Basic Training, was miserable.

For those of you who want to catch up on my story, here are the first two parts:

Hearing my son’s voice on the phone was amazing. It told me he was okay and surviving whatever it was he was going through. Not being able to talk to him and not having any way of communicating was the hardest part. Once he told me that I would receive a letter, the obsession switched from waiting for his call, to checking the mail.

Speaking with one of my managers at work, I told her what was going on, and she asked me if I had checked the Facebook page yet.

What????

This was a game changer, and something that I wish I had known about all along.

The Facebook page not only was chock-full of information on the different units, battalions, and platoons, but there was support!

I was no longer alone. There were people who, just like me where waiting to hear from their loved ones. As I worried about my son, they worried about theirs.

Good news was shared, along with worry.

Links to support groups, and pictures were passed along as they were found.

This gave me strength to get through some dark moments when I could do nothing but worry about my child.

Several times throughout the day I would walk to the mailbox, anxiety coursing through me as to what I would find. Day after day, I opened up that mailbox with shaking hands and tears would fill my eyes when there was nothing from him.

My husband would get home from work and ask if the letter came. He is my rock and when I am weak, he remains strong. Time after time I just shook my head.

Day number 15 was the hardest for me. I think I must have spent five hours scouring every picture and video posted on numerous websites hoping for even a small glimpse of my son. Others were sharing links that they found their loved ones on, and I drove myself crazy hoping for the same.

I had gotten to the point where every waking moment was spent worrying. I couldn’t focus on anything. My appetite had waned and my sleep was nearly nonexistent.

Then, on May 16th, while I was at work, my husband sent a picture of a letter that arrived.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Recognizing my son’s handwriting on the envelope, it was hard to keep it together long enough to finish my shift and race home.

It was the Commander’s letter.

It gave all the information needed in order to send your SIT (soldier in training) letters, and a long list of what was forbidden.

I had really looked forward to actually hearing from my son, but at least now I had an address and it made my week.

Now, when the recruiter gave my son the list of what to pack to bring to Basic Training, he was told not to vary from what was listed and not to bring anything that wasn’t on the list.

Now I know better.

He should have brought stamps, envelopes, a pen, and paper.

These are things that he could buy there at the PX, but they are extremely expensive there.

I shared his address, and immediately started to write letters. Thanks to the Facebook page, I knew that I needed to send him letter-writing supplies, so that was sent with the first letter. Once again, my spirit was lifted.

For 18 hours, I had relief in the fact that I could now communicate with my son, and write to him whenever I wanted to.

18 hours of finally getting to share something positive.

18 hours before the worry and fear of the unknown would once again come crushing down.

Stefani Vader

Written by

Lover of reading and writing. Hater of retail work. Small fish in a big pond, learning as I go.