July 8, 2010
Note from Mom: One year ago today Braden left for his mission. I remember all too well watching and helping him pack up his luggage, checking the lists, ironing his freshly washed and dried brand new white shirt. Watching him put on his Australian tie that Brother Groggett (who served in this same mission almost 20 years earlier) let him borrow. I watched my boy say his goodbyes, with tears in his eyes, to his nieces and nephews as well as to his siblings. I heard him call his friends for the last time to tell them goodbye. I watched him turn off his cell phone and hand it to me. I watched him gather his books and supplies and pack them neatly in his luggage. We checked the list again. Made sure he had his passport, his flight itinerary, his immunization record all in his suit pocket for easy access. I remember hugging him again and again and just looking at him trying to memorize his face, his walk, and his laugh. We went over his flight itinerary and asked him to call us, if possible, to let us know he had arrived safely in Utah. I remember our family prayer before we left for the airport. I remember Braden telling our dog, Martha, goodbye, and she just wagged her tail and loved him like nothing was any different. I remember how ready Braden was for this new adventure in his life, the opportunity to serve a mission and to serve our Heavenly Father. He was excited and ready to go.
When we arrived at the "Braden International Airport" in Yuma, we made sure to make him stand underneath the word, "Braden" with his luggage and took a picture -- we thought that was kind of cool. He always liked that the airport was "named after him." I remember looking at all the people arriving from their flight and seeing them hug their loved ones. I was about to tell my son good-bye for 2 years and he was about to leave for one of the most memorable and amazing 2 years of his life. It almost seemed surreal. Darryl helped Braden get checked in and get in line. I saw a friend, Sara Rosevear, who was flying out to see her daughter in Utah. I was there to send my son on his mission and she was so excited for him.
Then it was time for the good-bye. He was in line and people were behind him. Darryl and the boys hugged him first. Darryl let me be the final one to say my good-bye. I think he was worried that I might take too long and he wouldn't have a chance! I really couldn't take too long, but I hugged him as long as I could with tears streaming and told him how much I loved him and how proud I was. He was smiling and excited! The only tears were mine, and I knew right then that my boy was ready. I let him go and we all watched him walk onto his airplane. We waited to see his airplane take off and right then, his mission began, one year ago today.