Friday, December 30, 2011

Letters to Sean: Happy Birthday

Dear Sean,

For once, I'm not able to tell you Happy Birthday. Not through a text message, a phone call, on Facebook or even by yelling it to you first thing in the morning. And I won't lie - it feels sort of strange. Though I don't see you much now that I live on my own, it's still different having you so far away. I tried to send a singing card and pictures from your party but of course Mom said no way. Though I managed to ship you a package to arrive on your birthday, I thought I would write you a letter here too.  No matter how much I pick on you for your absurd clothing choices, inappropriate love of hunting, and your inability to spell - I love you & I am so proud that you're doing so well at bootcamp. I anxiously waited to get a letter from you and while I'm happy I finally did, I could kick you for it too. Spending Christmas with my old man? Not funny. I hope you're enjoying laundry duty, military issue food and signing your letters "Rct Lake - over and out". I'm counting down the days until you graduate and have already began to plan for the trip to South Carolina. The big surprise of it all is that Trevor's coming too! I know you can't wait. Lately I've seen so many marines symbols and semper fi bumper stickers on cars in the area... maybe Semper Fi should be capitalized, huh? Always a reminder of you. And don't worry, I can't wait to order my "Proud Sister of a Marine" shirt for family day. I'm thinking hot pink would be the best, don't you? 
Love you little brother, Happy 19th Birthday.

Love always - Your big sister.

I meant to write about Sean leaving long before now but between holidays, winter classes and my work schedule, the days pass so quickly. It's hard to believe that he left almost three weeks ago.

To be honest, I think I'm still in shock that he's at boot camp at all. Even throughout his going away party and swearing in session, it didn't really seem that I wouldn't talk to my brother for three entire months. I can't say that we saw each other all that much but we'd text, I'd still pick on him for anything I could think of and we had just spent a weekend shopping together at the mall.

Unfortunately, with a December 12th departure date, Sean had to miss both his birthday and Christmas with the family. After at least fifteen years of complaints about he never got a birthday party, we decided to change things a bit. The weekend before Sean left, we threw him an early birthday and going away party.

After trying to surprise him, we gave in. It's impossible to track down high schoolers without the use of Facebook these days. And obviously, that would be hard to hide. Instead, Sean invited his favorite friends and of course the first people to show up were a pack?.. a hoard?.. a nice group of girls.

We decorated tables with photos of Sean, photographs ranging from five year old Sean dressed as Simba from the Lion King to photographs from his high school graduation. You can only imagined how surprised we were when not only was he not embarrassed but he chose to show his friends his scrapbook, too. How bizarre. 

I had considered sending these photographs of Sean to bootcamp for his birthday but decided that perhaps, just maybe, that wouldn't be the nicest of things to do. But truthfully, what eighteen year old boy dons a pink tutu when he knows his sister is only a few feet away with a camera? What can I say, he's an odd kid.

In addition to friends, family came out to send Sean off with their best wishes. This included a cousin from Missouri, an uncle from Texas and our god mom who now lives in Virginia. Of course all of the local family was there, too.

Unfortunately, Aiden is taking right after his brother. He loves attention, especially from girls and was such a ham all day. I guess Sean has trained him well - do you see that look on his face?

Perhaps the most fun part of the party was an impromptu, last minute photobooth. We thought it'd be a good idea to capture photos of Sean with friends before he left. We've been warned several times that he won't look quite the same when we pick him up in March.


Somehow, we even managed some family photos. Looking back, I'm surprised that Sean had his photograph taken at all. (He hates my camera.)

I know this is out of focus but it's priceless none the less.
More importantly though, Sean had his picture taken with me - a rare occurance. Perhaps before middle school hit, we were inseparable in photographs. Ever since? I think I've got one from homecoming, one from graduation and perhaps that is it. The first one is especially attractive. I'm not sure why my mom hasn't printed and framed it, yet.

On December 12th, Sean was officially sworn into the military in a ceremony in Mechanicsburg, PA. For some reason, I agreed to waking up entirely too early to attend. It gave me a chance to tell embarrassing stories to his new platoon mates, to take a few last minute photographs and to film the ceremony for the days when my mom misses Sean too much.

By 1:00, Sean was boarding a bus headed for Parris Island, SC with nothing but twenty dollars, a bible and a few addresses. On March 8th, we will finally see him there. Until there, all we have are letters.

If you would like to support Sean while he is away, please feel free to send letters to the following address. He would also appreciate writing paper, envelopes and stamps as he has limited access to writing supplies while he is away. Thank you.

PO BOX 16355 

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