I have finally come out of the clouds and have landed safely back into “reality”. My writing has taken a back seat to evenings spent catching up on 7 months of missed conversation, cooking real dinners, his TV shows, his Netflix picks and his favorite restaurants. Isn’t it funny how that happens when they get home. The boys have spent lots of one on one time in between soccer, boy scouts, motorcycle rides and the new Wii. I thought it was time to catch up on the details of this unique homecoming.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our last phone call from “over there” and how strange it was knowing that he was “really” on his way home. I hate to admit that I wasn’t letting myself get too excited until I knew he was in Kuwait for fear the Navy and the Army would change their minds and keep him in country.
In my last post I talked about planning for R&R and I was told to plan for a HOMECOMING.
When was the last time you heard of that happening?? (more details of why that happened in a different post)
I think when he finally landed in the States he had been traveling for over 72 hours. I feel for the guys whose wives plan trips immediately upon their arrival. I’m so glad I sought the advice of several wives on this subject….who knew it would take FOREVER to get out of “over there”. Plus, since it is so close to summer it makes sense to wait till then for any road trips. The only requests he gave me for his homecoming were: his favorite meal, his favorite beer, something from his favorite store in the mall (VS), and no parties….oh and me off work for a week.
I was able to pull all of that off with not too much effort. What was different about this homecoming than ones of the past?
1. It was in a airport vs. a pier so we stood out like crazy.
2. My neighbors thought I was crazy when they saw me with 50 plus mini- American Flags that I put on every other driveway from my house to the entrance of the subdivision. After asking “Can I put a flag by your mailbox, my husbands coming home from Afghanistan tomorrow”, it was finally starting to sink in. The more I said “it” the more emotional I found myself, so after about the 7th house, I quit asking and just starting putting the flags in the ground anyway.
3. The boat was not delayed.
4. It all happened so fast, there was no waiting for the boat or watching the boat pull in.
The night before he came home I sat up in bed wondering what it would be like on his first night home and the days to follow. This was the longest we had ever been separated. I couldn’t help but wonder how he had changed, how had I changed? Would I know him like I did before? What would it be like to have him wandering around the house again? I never thought I’d have these types of feelings and questions….but I did. I felt like no matter how many letters and phone calls we had, nothing could prepare me for getting to know him all over again. After all, according to his Chaplain “they all think you have PTSD”, and I was wondering if he had “it”. I was preparing myself for things to be “awkward”, something his Chaplain had also told him. He would joke, “Are you ready for me to come home so we can be awkward together?”
I have never been as emotional as I was at this homecoming. I cried like a baby and didn’t care if anyone noticed.
I can’t accurately describe the feeling of seeing him in his desert “gear” for the first time, his sunburnt face, the faded out clothes….the backpack and seabag…etc…..I felt like it wasn’t him. Who was this person that I barely recognized??
It seemed like forever from the moment I first saw him until that first hug. With one hug the rush of excitement was almost heart stopping. I felt such a release of anxiety as the unknown this type of deployment created was gone.
As we drove home the sun was setting and I just could help but think, it was over. It was finally over.
He was home.
more on PTSD, his stuff in the shower, getting to know each other again and shopping at the Commissary for steaks all coming soon…..