Ship-Out Day Advice
You wake up and its ship-out day. First of all, be grateful that you woke up. Your life did not end. Your sailor’s life did not end. It’s a blessing that God allowed you to wake up and you need to keep it in mind that many other people around the world weren’t as fortunate. Your sailor is about to start his career, not die. This is a great season in his life and he loves you enough to include you in it.
After you put it all in perspective it’s much easier to get a grip and put on a brave face. The way our last day happened will be different than most others but may be still prove helpful to you. Kyle had to fly back to North Carolina after driving us out to California to visit with our families for one week, so I had to say goodbye to him at the airport before he flew back to meet his recruiter in North Carolina. Your ship-out day will probably go something like this: his recruiter will pick him up one afternoon at your home and take him to MEPS, and then he will be driven to a hotel where he will have some liberty time to have a dinner with family near the hotel. I highly recommend that you make that dinner special. Drive him back to his hotel and say a quick goodbye in the lobby since he will need to get sleep. Most likely he will need to wake up at 4am to go back to MEPS the following morning.
Once day breaks and he is through with all the last paperwork at MEPS, he will get sworn in as a US Sailor and will be led outside to get on a bus to head to the airport to head out to Boot Camp. If you are able to watch him get sworn in you are very lucky. It is very powerful to hear your sailor’s creed and commitment to this country.
Now, from what I have heard, it is very emotional to say goodbye as all the sailors load onto the bus to head to the airport. Honestly, this may sound rough but hear me out. If you are your sailor’s wife, you should go alone to say goodbye. I know your sailor’s mother and other family will want to be there, but it is different for the wife and most mother-in-laws will understand that. You are the next of kin. Watching everyone else cry and say goodbye will make it more difficult the wife to say goodbye. I personally believe that it is your right as a wife to be selfish in that moment and be the only one to accompany your sailor out to the bus. If you’re a NAVY girlfriend or fiancee, have an open dialogue with your sailor’s mother and determine what would be best for the sailor in regards to handling the final goodbye.
However you logistically end up at the bus, make your goodbye short and sweet. Watch him step on to the bus and then immediately walk away. Don’t stand there and watch him load completely on the bus and watch it drive away. That’s very dramatic. Get in your car and leave before the bus does. Your sailor knows that it is an emotional moment and that you love him and being strong for him during that moment makes it easier for him to leave you. It will be encouraging for your sailor to know that he has a strong woman waiting for him. Once you leave the parking lot, make sure that you have a distraction waiting for you at home or at a friend’s house. Also, make sure that your cell phone is with you and the volume is loud. You don’t want to miss his call later that night when he tells you that he made it to Great Lakes. It’s only an 8 second call, but it’s the last time you’ll hear his voice for 3 weeks. God bless you.