It's been almost a month since our bravely determined son left home for the last time to begin the new chapter of his life as a combat photographer for the United States Marine Corps. Since then we've only spoken to him on the phone a couple times, once after the birth of his new little sister and another just last weekend. We've shared a few text messages and I've sent bunches of photos of his sister, the first which he replied with a photo of his own, showing his own dear face, full of emotion, with the a caption that simply said, "Actually teared up. My God". It was really hard not having that kid around for Fiadh's birth and it's even harder knowing that he is going to miss all the exciting first milestones she'll have over the next 4 years. And yet, I know this is as it should be. He is a young man on the cusp of greatness. He has adventures untold spread out before him and his place is not to be at home, but out in the wider world, capturing images and creating his story. Tonight we received another text message from him, this time a photograph of a fancy certificate with the USMC insignia. Today he received his certification of completion for the School of Infantry. Next Monday he leaves for Maryland and the next phase of his education and the real training for his position as Combat Photographer begins. I wish I could hug him before he leaves... I wish I could tell him in person how proud we are. I wish I could see him hold his newborn sister. Instead, I must make due with my simple prayers, the same prayers many another mother has whispered for her own soldier son as he makes his way out into the big wide world, on battlefields both literal and figurative, and ultimately as his finds own destiny as a man... Blessings on your journey Private Cedar Barnes. We love you.