SANDBOXX scored expert advice from a boot camp letter writing queen. Read on to find out what to expect once your recruit leaves for boot camp.
Briana Esquivias knows a thing or two about writing letters. Briana, of Fairfield, California, sent more than 100 letters to her boyfriend, Luis Arias, while he trained at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.
Of that, 72 came through the SANDBOXX app!
She wrote him daily, and she encourages other girlfriends to do the same.
Luis is a Marine trained in aviation ordnance, and he’s currently finishing up Marine Combat Training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.
If there’s one thing to expect in the military lifestyle, it’s the fact that you’ll be separated a lot.
Briana opens up about the tough parts of sending your heart off to the service.
Read on to find out what to expect once your recruit leaves for boot camp.
Q: How long have you and Luis been together?
A: Luis and I have been together for about 18 months, so about a year and a half!
Q: You sent 72 letters. (Amazing, by the way!) Were those strictly through SANDBOXX or did you handwrite some?
A: I sent Luis 72 letters through SANDBOXX and approximately 15 handwritten ones through mail. I also sent him postcards and pictures through mail. Overall, he received mail from me over 100 times.
Q: How long after he was gone did you first make contact?
A: As soon as Luis left, I felt like a huge part of me was gone. We would always talk to each other through text or on the phone when we were physically away from each other, so it felt very weird to know that we would not be able to do this. I would no longer be receiving my favorite phone notification — a text or phone call from him. Because of this, I started writing to him the first day he left.
Q: When can a girlfriend expect to get an address?
A: I received his address through a text message from SANDBOXX during the second week of him being gone — 12 days after he left to be exact. I received my first letter from Luis about 3 weeks after he left.
Q: How often were you writing?
A: I wrote to him every single day, as I knew that reading these letters would be the best part of his days, but writing to him helped me immensely as well. Each time I wrote to him, it felt like I was actually talking to him. Luis is not only my boyfriend, but my best friend, so he was always the first person I’d go to when anything happened in my life.
Q: What would you write about?
A: While he was in boot camp and something exciting would happen during my day, I would automatically pull out my phone to tell him, but then I’d remember I couldn’t do so. This would make really sad at times, so I would be sure to include whatever happened through my day in the letter I wrote that day.
My letters would include a summary of my day and memories Luis and I had together. Sometimes I would go through my photos to find a picture of whatever we were doing on that exact date a year before and send him the photo and talk about that special memory.
I sent him a photo in each SANDBOXX Letter I wrote. Sometimes these photos would be of something I did during the day or older pictures of us together.
I would also include motivational words and quotes and made sure to remind him of how proud I was of him in each letter. No matter what I wrote to him, I made sure that it was positive, uplifting, and a reminder of how much I love him.
Q: Do you have any favorite quotes you sent him?
- “The best view comes after the hardest climb.”
- “Because even where we’re far apart, no distance can separate our hearts. Because missing him reminds how lucky I am to have someone worth waiting for. Because the love we share can not be broken by a war. Because loving a Marine is not hard. The distance, worry, and sacrifices are hard. But loving him is the easiest thing I’ve ever done.”
“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”
“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
Q: Anything you absolutely shouldn’t send to boot camp?
A: I was advised to just send letters and appropriate pictures. Some people send protein bars and other snacks, but if you do so, there must be enough for the entire platoon.
Q: What was it like getting that first letter back from him?
A: I cannot describe how amazing it felt to receive my first letter from Luis. I started somewhat stalking the mailman (laughs). I became familiar with the time the mailman arrived at my house and would wait by an open window in my room each day so that I could hear when the mailman passed.
I couldn’t believe it when I finally found a letter from him in my mailbox. I jumped with joy and ran back inside my house to open it. Sure enough, I couldn’t contain my feelings and started crying. It felt indescribably amazing to finally hear from him. It’s a moment I will never forget. Each time I did receive letters from him, my heart would race and fill with joy, I’d be smiling the rest of the day, and, honestly, I’d cry like a baby each time.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of being a military girlfriend?
A: I think the most challenging part of being a military girlfriend is being physically separated from the person you love the most. Each day of bootcamp was a challenge for both Luis and I.
Now, as Luis continues his training and his time in the military, the lack of communication and not being physically near him is very difficult and painful.
However, this experience has taught me a lot about my love for him and his love for me.
It has strengthened our relationship and has been a test to see how far our love can travel, and it can travel very far!
Though each day I wish that Luis and I could go back to the days where our adventures, hangouts, and conversations together seemed endless, I love Luis enough to support him in any decision he makes — including him joining the military.
He’ll always be my favorite hello and hardest goodbye, and though Luis joining the military has completely changed his life and mine, I will support him each step of the way. I am beyond proud of him.
Q: What is the best advice you can offer to a new military girlfriend?
A: My best advice to a new military girlfriend is to keep yourself occupied and spend time with your significant other’s family, if possible.
As soon as Luis left, I did begin to feel extremely lonely. I no longer knew what to do during my free time from school and work. He was the main person I would hang out with. I felt so lost without him here. I would reach out to friends and tried to spend more time with them to fill the emptiness I felt. My friends were always there to hear me at times where I felt lost and lonely.
I also began to work more hours at my job and spent more time helping my community; anything to keep my mind off the fact that Luis wasn’t around. However, what helped me the most was spending time with Luis’ family. I am very grateful to have a great relationship with his family. I would text his mom often and would spend time with his family each time the opportunity presented itself. I attended family functions, his uncle’s wedding, and I helped Luis’ mom paint his bedroom as a special gift for when he got home. Being around his family filled the void I felt. They knew exactly what I was going through, as they were going through similar feelings.
Q: Was it emotional spending time with his family?
A: A couple of times his parents and I cried together at how much we missed him, but we shared feelings of excitement as the graduation date approached. It made me very happy to spend time with Luis’ family because it felt like a part of him was there.
I would send Luis pictures of his family and I together. He has told me that knowing that his family and I were spending time together was one of the things that made him the happiest while at bootcamp.
My time spent with them without Luis here even strengthened my relationship with them. My love for his family grew immensely and I now consider them my family, too. I really, really recommend new military girlfriends spend time with their significant other’s family if they have the opportunity to do so, as that is truly what helped me the most.
Q: Any other advice?
A: As hard and challenging as it may be to be away from the person you love the most — while having little to no contact with them — do your best to stay optimistic. Set a countdown on your phone for the next time you are seeing your significant other. It’ll make you realize how fast time passes and make you super excited to watch the number go down each day.
The feeling you will experience when you are finally reunited with him or her will be a feeling like no other. The day I was reunited with Luis was easily the best day of my life. It felt so incredibly amazing to hear his voice and finally be in his arms again. The pride I felt seeing him graduate and achieve his greatest dream made everything worth it.
Hey girlfriends! Are you new to the military community? Read about the Rules for Being in a Military Relationship on our blog.
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