Layer of pillows, layer of blankets, more blankets to cover up with, and pillows for our heads. Every Christmas Eve, we spent almost hours building the perfect fort on the floor, making hot chocolate, and arguing over who gets to pick what Christmas movies we watched until we fell asleep on the hard-wood floors. Always waking up on Christmas day with sore aching backs.
Your dream since we were little and started building those forts was to go to the military. This did not get handed to you. You were so dedicated you would randomly do pushups every day to keep in shape. I would leave the bathroom, and you would be in the hallway, just doing pushups. I was there for you when you thought you wouldn't get accepted after almost a year of training, and got so frustrated you wanted to quit. You worked harder and wanted this more than I had ever seen before, and you got into the Navy.
We drove you to Columbus and watched the bus you got in to drive away with tears in my eyes. Even though you’re 900 miles away, you still call me to talk about your day, no matter where you are. Even if you're in the bathroom, and I hang up and tell you to call when you're done. You don’t care about your volume even when I’m saying “speak up” non-stop. You’ll still answer when you're grocery shopping, just to talk. It scares me that I take these calls for granted. When I’m with my friends and I don’t answer, or I think I'm too busy with homework to talk. It scares me that one day the calls will stop coming, and you’ll stop answering the phone at all; but I’ll still call just to hear your voicemail, to hear your voice one last time. “Hello, this is Jacob Skomer, I can't get to the phone right now. Please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you, bye.” The last words I’ll ever hear you say, and I wonder now, will mine be, “love you,” or will we be in a fight, and I’ll say something I’ll grow to regret.
As I sit at home alone on Christmas eve while you're in boot camp; I build a fort alone, make myself hot chocolate, and watch Christmas movies till I fall asleep on the floor. I wonder if the barracks you live in will keep you as safe as the pillow forts at home. I worry if the friends you make will be able to keep you out of trouble. Does the Navy know how much they’re protecting, how important you are to me, and so many others, and how losing you is my biggest fear. But I hope that you’ll come home safely to us so that we can continue to wake up on Christmas with our backs aching from the hard-wood floors.