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What May 25 means to me

Apparently Star Wars came out thirty years ago today. My husband was watching something about it on the television and he didn't recognize Princess Leah on the tv special because she looked so much older. I reminded him that Carrie Fisher was most likely in her twenties THIRTY years ago, and that's why she looks older.

May 25 (but in 1985, twenty-two years ago) to me was the day I returned home from my 18-month mission from The Netherlands Amsterdam mission, which also included the Flemish (northern) part of Belgium. I have a little story about that time, back in 1985.

On the last evening of my mission, as those of us who were leaving the next day to return to The United States, the AP's (assistants to the mission president) told all of us that the airport in Amsterdam, Schiphol, was on strike, and that they hoped we'd all be able to leave the next day still. We thought they were joking, and when we got to the airport, we realized they were dead serious. I was so excited to go home and couldn't believe what I was hearing.

They ended up loading us onto a bus to take us to Brussels, Belgium, to try to make it home. I ended up flying to LaGuardia and arriving later than I was supposed to and was put up for the night into a hotel room because I missed my connecting flight home to California, where I had begun my mission. I knew that my family had planned a big homecoming party for me and I was concerned that they wouldn't get the news in time. Somehow they did.

As I was in my hotel room, the phone rang. What the heck? Who would be calling? Who knew I was even staying there? I answered it and almost dropped the phone when I realized who it was. It was Craig. Craig, as in the guy whom I was smitten with before my mission and wrote to the entire 18 months of HIS mission.

Just to fill you in here, I met Craig when I was living in California with my Aunt Peggy and Uncle Bill, and we dated briefly and I thought he was THE ONE for me. He got his mission call to Paris, France, and would be gone for 9 months, then I would be leaving on my mission, and for nine months, he would be the one at home until I got back. We had kind of a mutual understanding that I would send him all kinds of care packages and letters while he was on his mission, and then after he got home, he'd reciprocate and do the same for me. I loved getting his "love letters" and hearing all about France.

Craig would write sweet letters to me and talk about all of his experiences and I would faithfully write back and put together wonderful gifts to send him, and a nice, long letter every week for eighteen long months. (The transition back to the two-year missions for elders happened while I was on my mission and the elders in my MTC group had to decide whether or not they were going to extend their stay for six months or leave at the 18-month mark that they'd originally "signed up for.")

So, just a few months after I had started my mission, and Craig got home from HIS mission, I got this lousy excuse of a letter from him, basically dumping me, and I never once got a single "care package" from the loser. (Trust me, he did me a huge favor, and I'm SO glad he dumped me, but at the time, I was heart broken and pissed off. Although I would have probably expressed it as "being perturbed" at the time, having been a good missionary with nicer communication practice.)

As the brief conversation with Craig and me unfolded, he told me how he had somehow found out through my bishop or someone from the stake, when I'd be coming home, and even tracked down the flight I would be arriving on, and he showed up to greet me and welcome me home at the Oakland airport. That was at least flattering that he cared to do that. Airport employees divulged to him the details of my delay and gave him my contact information at the hotel in New York. This was obviously pre-9/11, as this generosity of information would be impossible now. Regardless, I was delighted and twitterpated once again at the sound of his voice, and pretty much forgave him for ever sending me the "Dear Jane" letter.

Suddenly, I realized I would be seeing the quote-unquote man of my dreams the next day, and I had overindulged on the finer cuisine in life in Holland and Belgium, and decided I needed to lose ten pounds by the next morning. (As if!) So I started doing jumping jacks and sit-ups before running back into the arms of my beloved Craig. {puking sounds}

It was an exciting time. The flight from NYC to the San Francisco Bay area seemed like it took forever, but to my delight, I was upgraded to first class. I was on cloud nine and was feeling on top of the world. I was nervous as all get out too. My mom and stepdad, my sisters and brother, and my one stepbrother, were there with a ten-pound huge new camcorder and filmed me getting off of the plane. This was back when everyone could wait for you and greet you at the gate. I hugged them all, bawled when I saw my mom, who never wrote me a single letter (well, maybe one or two) and then standing on the side, as cute as ever, was Craig. We awkwardly embraced, and I thought it would be the two of us going off into the sunset to live happily ever after. We dated a little bit after that. Thank goodness he dumped me again! I wish I could say it was the other way around, but it wasn't. But I'm still thankful for him. Because he meant a lot to me, and got me through some tough times, and helped me be more selective when choosing my true knight in shining armor.

On the way home from the airport--which was supposed to be May 25, but ended up being May 26--I was scheduled to stop by the church to meet with the stake president to give my mission report and to be released. I can hardly describe the huge sadness that fell over me when he uttered these words and said to me, "Sister Thompson, you are hereby released as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." My heart sank and I literally felt the power and keys given to me vanish. I was so greatly blessed for the hard work and time I had given as a full-time missionary, and never realized until then how real the mantel of my calling was. I would long for this feeling to return every day of my life since, and have yet to match it, and know that my mission was a one-time blessing that I will always cherish.

Then next day we had the big party and celebrated! It was so much fun. My Aunt Ollie had arranged a banquet at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress and all the aunts, uncles, and cousins came out to welcome me home. It was such a special feeling seeing everyone, and especially seeing their enormous support, and not even really understanding what it was I had experienced, as none of them are Mormons. The humbling part of this to me is that they loved me and supported me for what I believed and what I had felt was important. Craig was there too, by the way. LOL. I have definitely upgraded since then!


Heidi said…
Kelly thanks for sharing the story!! I loved learning more about you and that time of life.

I have to say thank goodness for unanswered prayers sometimes- you ended up with someone perfect for you!
Summer Adams said…
Oh my goodness, what a fun story! You are a crack up.

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