Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Homecoming Sweet Homecoming

It's been a week and a half and, lawd I haven't said a word about it. (Yes, I'm slowing and stubbornly turning southern. I apologize.) Saturday January 10th was the day. Kind of. The kids and I spent all day cleaning and running errands and being very excited and all the normal things we do and feel when Husband's on his way home. After the 11 hour delay, we were certain there would be no more delays or blips or glitches.

Wrong.

The eagle was due to land at about 11:00 pm, turn in weapons at the airport, load buses, and make the hour trip home. He was supposed to be in the gym here on post at about midnight., so the kids and I showed up at 11:15 because sitting around the house was doing us no good. Hunter got very excited when we arrived because he thought we were actually going to 'Raq to see Daddy. He was jumping up and down asking when we were going to get on the plane!

At 11:45 we got word the guys hadn't even loaded the buses yet. At 12:30 am we were told the guys had loaded buses and were finally on their way.

A whole hour longer to wait! It 'bout near killed me, I swear. Drew and Hunter spent the time running all over the gym. In the front of the gym they had rows of flags set up, along with two projection screens that had videos of the guys when they were in Iraq. Several times Hunter came very close to knocking something over. I could just imagine the rows of flags going over like dominoes. Thank goodness he petered out before anything actually did happen.

The gym was packed with family and friends waiting to see their loved ones. It really was something great to be a part of. I've had friends tell me how awful it is and what a horrible wait it is, and I have a few friends who don't even go when their husbands come home. I wouldn't miss something that like for the world! I didn't get to do a big ceremony like that when Husband came home from Afghanistan, so this was very special. There was so much energy and electricity in the air. Even when they told us about the last delay, we were just still so excited to finally be at that point. Our men (and women) were THAT close to us!!

At 1:35 am Hunter finally crashed and burned. He layed down on the floor and was out. Poor little guy! I picked him up and tried so hard to wake him up again. Around that time the guys who were running the "show" stopped playing the slideshow of pictures from Iraq, and started showing video of our troops getting off the plane just a few hours earlier. I didn't actually see Husband get off the plane, but that didn't matter because I realized the video was just a distraction.... those tricksters! They didn't want us to see our guys (and women) lining up outside the gym. Right there, that close to me, was my husband. Just a door separating us. Someone was peaking through a window and she shouted "they're all lined up!!" Screams of excitement and sounds of joy came from all over the gym.

I can't tell you what song was playing when they started to file in, all I can say is my heart hasn't beat that fast in a long time. I had no tears. I wasn't scared. I just wanted to see his face and make sure he could see mine. They filed in in a single line. One after the other. Walking down, standing at attention, eagerly searching the crowd for their loved ones. Soldier after soldier walking past, the crowd cheering, pictures flashing. I didn't see him walk in and I was so worried he'd already passed by me and I didn't notice. My friends saw their husbands and waved. I pointed out a few guys here and there to someone who had just come to take pictures for us.

287 soldiers walked past me before I finally saw mine. I know that because there were 288 total, and mine was the last one in the door. He caught my eyes right away and again, there were no tears. Just smiles bigger than I think I've ever smiled. He saw Hunter fast asleep on my shoulder and gave me a quick little smile/giggle.

The post commander stood up and gave the briefest speech I've ever heard, followed by these four beautiful words, "Soldiers, you are released."

The song "At Last" by Etta James blasted over the speakers and I was finally in his arms again. Still no tears, just the greatest flood of relief you can imagine. He hugged Drew and Louisa, and we tried to wake Hunter up. Hunter, who'd been waiting *so long* for that moment, would not be woken.

We had to go outside to find his rucksack, and then headed to the truck to take our hero home. (He doesn't like being called that, by the way.) Once we were at the truck Hunter opens his eyes and says, "Oh HI, Daddy!!" He gave Daddy a big hug and asked if he was home now. We buckled him in his carseat and he says, "Daddy, can we go home and go to sleep now?" hehe.

A week and a half later and we are well adjusted. Friday is a big re-deployment ceremony, and then he's on leave for 30 days. We get to sit around the house and be bums and relax. He's earned it.

We've both had an incredible amount of support during this deployment. Family, friends, and even strangers have given to us more than we feel we deserve. We don't feel we do anything special by living this life, but we thank everyone who recognizes what hard work it is. God has blessed us in many ways and we are so grateful for everyone who's helped us. God couldn't have given us a better extended family than all of you who prayed, sent cards and packages, gave love and support, and let me lean on them when I needed it. God gives us all our obstacles, but He also gives us support when we feel we can't get through.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Hurry Up!!! ........ and wait.

So, I have this husband, and he's trying to get home from a 14 month deployment in Iraq. While I do understand that *worse* things can, and have, happened, I'd really like for all the delays to stop so he can just get here. We miss him, and he misses us. 14 months is a l-o-n-g time.

We were planning on a reunion tomorrow afternoon around 2:00. The kids and I were all set. T-shirts made. Banners hung. House clean. Ready. To. Go.

I got a call tonight from a sad soldier in Germany. They have an 11 hour layover there. Again, I realize it could be worse. But I feel so bad for him and I feel bad for the kids. We've talked about Daddy coming home all day so it will be a little hard for them to hear it will probably be after midnight.
Here are a few things we did today to get ready for Husband's return.





(Just a side note, thank you to BuildASign.com for *all* the free banners they have provided. Our post is filled with them!!)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My Daddy's Coming Home!

An original by Hunter.
Turn your volume UP! Not sure why, but it's very quiet. And yes, my house is messy. Get over it :)


video

Monday, January 05, 2009

Welcome Home! (preparation, that is!)

Still waiting......

But, we are making preparations. Tonight I let Drew and Louisa make their t-shirts. Here is a sneak peak at Drew's shirt for the Welcome Home ceremony. Whenever that is.

Hunter lended a "hand" (yes, literally) in making some welcome home signs. I also ordered some big 3x6 vinyl signs to hang on the carport, but we want homemade ones as well.

It's so crazy the emotions you go through when sitting around waiting for your husband to come home. If I thought about it, I could probably change my little Punky Moods emoticon on the right side of the page about once every hour. The only emotion I don't have is nervousness. I'm not nervous. Some of my friends have been terribly nervous waiting for their husbands. I haven't felt that. I am anxious, excited, proud (in him, the kids and myself), frustrated & disappointed (because his return date was delayed by two days), joyful... and without a thesaurus I'm running out of adjectives that just generally mean GLEEFUL BEYOND ALL BELIEF! Oh, and relieved.

Today three big units from our base came home and as I was driving across base I saw 4 very large tour buses drive down the street. They not only had a 4-car police escort, but the police were stopping traffic at all intersections so the buses could go right through. It was a magnificent sight! Knowing my friends loved ones were on those buses made my heart jump with such joy. I so badly wanted to reach for my cell phone and call them all up to say "I see the buses, hold on a few more minutes!!"

I have yet to experience the big homecoming in the gym you see on TV so much. The last deployment Husband had the good fortune of coming home early, but that took away the big ceremony that everyone else got. I'm so excited to see the families waiting eagerly together. I heard that they show video of the soldiers getting off the plane at the airport. I can imagine spouses and parents pointing saying "There's my soldier!"

I'm so excited. I don't think I can say that enough. He's coming home soon and we get about 4 months together before he takes off for the summer to do some training.

I asked the kids what is the first thing they want to do with Daddy when he comes home. I wrote down their responses, knowing Daddy will read this. (Oh, and note to Daddy, don't look at the above pictures!)

The first thing Hunter wants to do with Daddy:
"Give him a hug. And a kiss. And then (jumping up and down making karate chop motions) watch Kung Fu Panda."

The first thing Drew wants to do:
"Take Daddy to my martial arts class."

The first thing Louisa wants to do:
"Play Monopoly, or my new Harry Potter Clue game."

The first thing I want to do:
I can't say. His mom reads my blog :)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy 2009!

Can you *believe* it's 2009??!! (and can you believe how many times you've probably heard that the last 3 days?!)
Where o' where did time go? Again, another common cliche lately.

I thought this deployment would drag and drag. I thought it would never come to an end. Yet here we are, mere days from the finale. Most of our unit has actually already arrived. Husband is bringing up... fairly close to the rear. Not quite, but close.

It's crazy to see the mass of soldiers that I never realized were missing. The PX and the commissary shelves wiped clean, the liquore store dangerously low (yes Honey, there's still enough left for you!). When they left in late November/ early December 2007, I didn't really notice the lack of soldiers on post. Maybe I wasn't observant, and I guarantee I was lost in my own little woes of having just said good-bye to my husband. People were curious, with 4000 troops gone, is there a noticable difference? Thinking back, I just don't know. To me, no, there wasn't. But coming in! Wow do I notice! Longer lines, single soldiers walking everywhere with big bags full of food, empty shelves, it's nuts!
The most common topic of discussion right now is "Are you ready?" If you mean, is your house spotless and ready for all the gear your husband's about to dump in it, then I say HA! I don't think I'll ever be organized enough to be "ready". (And I thank God continuously that I have a husband who just doesn't care about that stuff!) But if you mean, are you ready to have your other half home again? Then Yes! I'm ready, ready, ready to have my best friend home again. 14 months is just plain painful.
Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year!! I ask you all to pray hard for our new administration that's about to take office. Even if I wouldn't have voted for them myself, I do pray that Obama and his crew are the change our country so desparately needs. War, economics, jobs, health care, schools, natural resources, natural disasters... our country is facing just as much as it ever has. Sometimes we've had amazingly strong leaders who've gracefully lead us out, and sometimes we haven't. Pray this is one of those times where positive changes are made.