Last night, we finally decided to open some of the boxes that have been sitting on our front porch for the past year and a half—boxes that contain all of your belongings that they shipped home from Okinawa last spring. Though I was told they packed it all up the day after you were killed, it still took them three months to get here. Some of it has not even arrived yet…

We have not been ready to open them, but having your fellow Marines, Nolan and “G,” by our side, gave us a little more courage. A part of me feels ashamed that the boxes have been sitting there so long, and yet, another part of me is very understanding of how complicated this whole situation truly is. I know you know… (Big Sigh.)

I am not exactly sure what I was expecting to find inside, or what I would feel, but when I cracked that first one open, it was like unleashing all the essence of YOU into our home… The sight of your everyday belongings, and clothes, and bedding, and seashell collection, and stuffed Pokémon, and sketch books, and Marine gear, and important papers, and certificates, and laptops, and baseball cap, and books, and random car parts and bike parts, and wrenches and tools, and spear-fishing gun, and the list goes on…, but the sight of all of these things that were so much a part of you—it has left me struggling to breathe once more… Now, I am caught wondering how I can possibly keep going without you?!!! My strength, my rock, my hero, my son…

As we tenderly unboxed your bedding, and even your pillow, I just wanted to crawl right into its folds, and tuck myself in there, forever, as I inhaled the most familiar scent a mother knows—that of her own, precious child… I will guard these sacred treasures for the rest of my days—just like I have guarded my sweet Josie’s aroma for the past six and a half years, that was infused into her own personal effects. Whenever I need that special hug, these items will have to suffice—for now…

Much to my dismay, there was also a bag of what appeared to be wet clothing and boots inside one of these boxes! I could not hardly believe or fathom why they would send your belongings home wet?!!! Upon seeing them in this condition, I was at first a bit angry and annoyed, but as I proceeded to untie the clear plastic bag, it was soon apparent that not only did your clothing have no sign of mold or mildew, but that these were the cammies and boots you wore on your “last day” for swim qualifications… (I also later realized that it was you who must have packed these wet items into the bag before heading back to your barracks that day!) With your dog tags secured neatly inside your boot laces, and also the pocket of your trousers, my heart wept anew—overcome by emotions and yearnings to hold you close once more…

This morning, as I came into the room where your wet clothing was now carefully hanging to dry, my heart continued to bleed. As I breathed in the curiously fresh essence of water and earth and you, I wanted so badly to have you back on this side of the veil—telling me about your crazy day and near misses, your future plans and big dreams, your failures and triumphs … I desperately wished I could hear your sweet, tender voice once more. But I know once would never be enough…

My heart has bled dry many times over the past several years, but somehow there is always a little more pain to be had. Today is no exception. However, it is precisely in moments like these—when it is hurting the most—that I feel you the closest. I do not know quite what I expected opening up all these boxes; I knew that by having all these different pieces of you and your life would not exactly put you “back together.” I guess I did not really expect anything… After all these years of pain and suffering, I have truly quit expecting anything—from life or anybody!!!!

What I did get, though, was a huge reminder of how very much I love you, and how very badly you are missed… Words will never be sufficient to describe the pain—nor the deep, deep love. You, my son, my good, good son, have made your momma so exceedingly proud!!!! You did good, my precious Boi.

I love you forever…

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