Doin' It Halfway Since 1996

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Relief.

My hair is blow dried and straightened. I’ve even put on make up for the occasion. I found the perfect outfit: a long, red sweater (because red looks so good on me) and a denim skirt that my friend insisted I try on. I found some fun black suede boots that will get me through the winter. The girls’ t-shirts say, “Daddy’s Girl.”

The kids don’t even know what’s happening. I wonder if they can feel the electricity, the buildup, the anticipation seeping through my pores.

It’s all come down to this. One year, two months, 3 days and 5 hours give or take some minutes is how long I have waited for this moment. I’ve waited through the lonely nights, the long days, the anxiety a ringing doorbell created, the single parenthood created by deployment, the missed birth, the holidays without him, the arguments that had to be resolved via phone call, email or more frequently instant message, the knee and back injuries, all the missions where I didn’t hear anything for weeks, the loss of friends. I have prayed in the wee hours of the morning, awakened abruptly for no other reason but to just pray. I’ve cried buckets of tears behind closed doors: tears of fear, anger, loneliness, frustration, confusion, bitterness.

The waiting is finally over.

The gym is a little crowded. I doubt everyone’s here yet. It’s like any other gym. Except there are flags and banners and signs everywhere. Women and children sit in the bleachers, and we’re all here for the same reason. We’re here to welcome them home.

Someone hands me a small flag. My oldest, just two and a half, sits in the front of the stroller, concentrating on some video I’ve downloaded on my ipod. My youngest, nursed before we got into the car, is just now starting to fuss. I pick her up and let her play with the flag in my hand. I notice a news camera several feet away, focused in on us. Waiting. Pregnant with anticipation and hungry for a glimpse of him.

I’ve made a sign for my oldest to hold. It says, “1 LT R is my Hero.” I think I’ve been clever, but find that the small red construction paper sign written in black sharpie pales in comparison to the others prepared by spouses who have already been through this scenario two or three times over.

His former Platoon Sergeant puts my oldest on his shoulders. He’s a welcome sight. He represents that my waiting is over. “Won’t be long now.” He tells my daughter. She stares at him blankly. I wonder how much she’s absorbing of this moment, how much her two and a half year old brain understand. I’m torn between my desire to see him walk through that door and the maternal instincts that tell me to care for my babies.

The band assembles. It’s time.

The door opens. A blast of frigid Alaskan air rushes in. But none of us notices We’re hot with eagerness.

And one by one they come.

My heart starts to race. Where is he? What’s taking so long? They all look the same. Will I recognize him? Will he look different? I can feel each heart beat. The blood rushes to my ears and all I can hear is my heart thumping so heavily inside my chest that I’m sure I’m about to explode.

And there he is. I scream his name, waving my hand. My voice is hoarse. His eyes catch mine. Still all business, the only smile I see is the one in his eyes. And there’s the RELIEF. He’s home. He made it. We made it. He’s safe. We’re together again.

We’ve been indoctrinated. Him, mission first (which at this moment is formation). Me, to wait patiently until he’s given the go ahead to break ranks.

So we wait through a two-minute speech and one-minute prayer. And while it’s a nuisance, it’s also expected. Three minutes is nothing compared to how long we’ve already been waiting.

They’re dismissed and he’s lost in a sea of gray and green. I don’t see him for a little bit. And then, like some Hollywood movie, the crowd breaks, and he’s in front of me. I run to him, and hold him more tightly than I ever have before. Tears. Passionate kiss. Relief.

I’m oblivious to how hard the next few months, NO, years, are going to be. I have no clue that we’ll find out we’re to be parents for the third time in a few months. I don’t know that in about 30 minutes I’ll see that the man who left me fourteen months ago is gone, and the man that stands before me is a different one, fatigued and jaded by what he’s experienced and seen. I can’t even begin to imagine the conversations we’ll have or how our relationship will change and evolve, going to a place I never thought would exist for us. I’ve told people that the grace of God brought us through it, but I don’t know how much further his grace will continue carrying us. All I know at this moment is this:

He’s Home. He’s in my arms. And I’m relieved.

This post brought you via inspiration from Mama Kat. The prompt? A moment you felt truly relieved. Need inspiration? Go visit!

Mama's Losin' It

If my written words didn’t paint enough of a picture, here’s a video of a friend of mine whose husband came home right around the same time mind did. This short video captures it all:

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17 responses to “Relief.

  1. leonabriggs January 13, 2011 at 6:48 am

    What a wonderful post! I am so grateful for the men and women in our country who daily put their lives on the line for our freedom–I thank God for them!

  2. Claire January 13, 2011 at 10:10 am

    This post brought tears to my eyes. So incredibly well written. I can’t imagine what you went through with a deployment. Thanks to you & your husband for the sacrifices you’ve made.

    thanks for stopping by my blog today.

  3. Nicole January 13, 2011 at 10:17 am

    What a beautiful post! You brought tears to my eyes! I always wondered how my mom did it with my brother and me while my father was out on sea-duty or some unknown mission. Thank you for writing so eloquently, and in a way that I could totally relate to you, as well as all of the other mothers, then and now, that have a husband in the military.

  4. Sadia January 13, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Congratulations.

    The first time hubby returned from Iraq, we were engaged, and I just COULD NOT pick him out from all the other guys dressed the same. I kept thinking, “I’m going to marry him, and I can’t even recognize him?”

    When he gets home this summer from Afghanistan, the challenge will be keeping our then-5-year-olds from interrupting the formation! It’s so amazing to have them be old enough to have real memories of his this time around.

    • Mama Bear Ping January 14, 2011 at 10:31 pm

      I remember seeing a video of a little boy running to his dad in formation. He didn’t care that there were formalities. And you know what? No one stopped him. It was the sweetest thing ever.

  5. hillary January 13, 2011 at 11:36 am

    What an incredible story! I found myself nervous with anticipation just reading up to the point that you guys got to kiss. My brother did two deployments as well, and I saw this type of emotion in my sister-in-law. He was wounded in Ar Ramadi and had to come home to recover, but then went back. The grace that God gives is truly enough for each day. Thank you for sharing!

    Stopping by from MamaKat’s

  6. Booyah's Momma January 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Oh my gosh, this was just beautiful. You describe the range of emotions and experiences so perfectly. I can’t imagine going through that. But, after reading this, I almost could.

    Beautiful kids, by the way!

  7. Mothers' Hideaway January 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    This makes me tear up. I could never be a military wife. I would worry too much. Hurt too much. Miss too much. You’re so strong and while I know and imagine that the path is so hard because of all he has seen and went through I hope you guys come out the other side hand in hand with your children in tow.

    • Mama Bear Ping January 14, 2011 at 10:39 pm

      It’s always worth sayin’, so I will. God’s grace has brought us through SO much in our marriage. The deployment is just one of those things. Each day is new (and a new opportunity to trust the Lord in our circumstances).

  8. JDaniel4's Mom January 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing this experience. You see events like this happening on t.v., but have know idea what people are really thinking or feeling.

  9. Sprinkle January 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Wow thank you for sharing, you described it so well. Amazing post.

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