Gabrielle Hulin of Brandon is an English major at William Carey University. Both her parents are members of the Mississippi Army National Guard. Her father, Warrant Officer Preston Foster, lives in-state and she sees him most weekends. Her mother, Sgt. Melissa Foster, is deployed overseas until later this year. In this story, Gabrielle talks about how she and her mother stay close – despite the distance.
By Gabrielle Hulin
Living as a military kid had never been a big deal to me. We moved around when I was younger, but both of my parents were basically always around. That all changed last year, when my mom found out she was going to be deployed overseas after I started college. Here are a few things that changed:
· Snack connection: Right after my mom left, she ordered me a subscription to an international snacks box. I get these boxes every month around the 15th, and immediately I open them up and send my mom a picture. It’s one of the highlights of the month for me because I get to talk to her about what I liked and didn’t like in the box. Talking about it keeps us feeling close even though she’s far away. This month’s box was from Israel. My favorites were a chocolate bar with pop rocks in it, falafel-flavored wheat snacks, and a peanut butter nougat. My least favorite snack was a pistachio sesame bar.
· We’ve got you: Family is more important than ever to me now. I have two younger siblings and they look to me to be strong – especially because I’m the first child to head off to college, so it was going to be a difficult year anyway. My family has been keeping their eyes on me. It’s nice to know that they’re watching out for me.
· No texting: My mom’s phone number doesn’t work from the country she’s in, so I can’t just call or text her. If I want to hear her voice or text her, I have to use social media instead.
· Facebook: Speaking of social media, I use Facebook all the time now. Messenger is the best way to communicate with her. I can text her anytime, I can videocall her when I want to see her or hear her voice. I can even play games with her online. It keeps us connected.
· Holidays aren’t the same: Especially at Christmas and Thanksgiving, it feels like someone is missing who should be there. We can always videocall my mom, but it’s not the same as having her there with us.
· About selfies: I like taking pictures of scenery and the world around me, but I’ve never been fond of taking selfies. Recently, though, I’ve been taking more selfies! My mom doesn’t get to see my face all the time anymore. I send her pictures of me, along with pictures of wherever I am, so that she can see me from time to time.
· Fear: Because she’s deployed, my mother might be in a dangerous place. Thinking about what could happen makes me nervous.
· Meeting other people’s moms: I’m a freshman and I’ve made a lot of new friends this year. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet some of my new friends’ moms, and it makes me realize how much I miss her. It makes me feel bad when I meet someone’s mom and all I can think about is mine – but I think it’s justified by the fact that I won’t get to see my mom in person for awhile.
· Unexpected connection: I went to college on my own, so I was assigned a random roommate since I didn’t have any friends yet. I was matched with a missionary kid, Zoe Johnson, but what I didn’t know until we started talking was that her family will be moving out of the country again in the winter, leaving her behind. It helped us really connect, since we both understand how hard it is to be in a completely different country, away from parents. God really does work for our benefit, as I’ve found this year.
· And finally: I can’t wait for my mom to come back later this year. The days seem to go by slowly, but really the months are blasting by, and I know it won’t be long until she comes home. This experience has really made me grateful for my mom, and I realize how much I took her for granted. Sunday is Mother’s Day. Go see your mom and give her the tightest hug you can, because that’s what I’ll be doing when my mom comes back.