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
Tag Archives: Deployment
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!
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:
If you missed Parts I and II of this four-part post on “Why I Heart Christmas”
I love my Hubs. He’s so great. We just celebrated eight years of wedded bliss last month. And while that doesn’t sound like a lot, we’ve ventured further than many couples have. We’ve weathered many storms into which some would never dare to sail. Our waistbands are a little bigger and we have a few more wrinkles. But, for the grace of God, we’re chuggin’ along like a well-oiled machine. My hubs isn’t as enthusiastic as I am when it comes to Christmas. He’s had some cruddy Christmases. However, he loves me, so he lets me blare Christmas music in the house (and he sometimes even pretends to like it). He’ll sit through “White Christmas” if I give him puppy dog eyes (and then promise to watch Rambo or Terminator or Star Trek or Lord of the Rings). He’ll even eat the sugar cookies when I bake them. He’s such a trooper.
He was a Black Friday virgin, and I broke him in. Some of his favorite purchases in past years include a set of walkie talkies (that was before smart phones), a 40-inch Sony television, and then later, the 32-inch he purchased for his upcoming knee surgery. We don’t tend to Black Friday together (yes, I just turned a noun into a verb). Our plan of attack is divide and conquer, which we usually do. Being a former military man, he’s good at logistics and tactical advantages.
In our ten plus years as a couple, we’ve had many memories. Here are a few from this time of the year.
My first Christmas as a married woman was interesting. We had planned to divide our time between families. Pretty routine. However, on December 23, a huge snow storm hit the area where we lived. While a snow storm of that particular proportion wouldn’t cause us to fret now (having lived in Alaska has made us snow-driving experts), at the time, it caused great concern. My husband is from a warm, southern state and didn’t have much experience driving on snow and ice. No businesses are open on Christmas Eve, especially not small town gas stations that lined the road in which we were about to travel. We had planned to leave on Christmas Eve. I was supposed to work, but ended up not going in partly because I was sick, and partly because the roads were so bad. By the time we left our apartment, it was 6 p.m. It’s usually about a five and a half hour drive to my parents’ home. We packed our things, including our geriatric and insane beagle, stopped at Sonic to grab a bite to eat, and headed out in the Winter Wonderland with uncertainty in our tiny, two-seater, rear-wheel drive Toyota pick-up. There are a few things to mention here. Our dog smelled like butt all the time, even after a bath. She sat curled up at the bottom of my seat, so I had no leg room. Missouri is not the best at road maintenance, so the roads were awful. We were both very stressed and anxious, so we fought most of the way. I got confused because the snow made the surroundings unfamiliar and I told my husband to turn down the wrong road, which led us about thirty minutes out of the way (this was pre-GPS, which I don’t think I can live without now). While this doesn’t sound like a very nice memory, it always makes me smile and laugh when I think about it. We were so young and in love and stupid. What kind of idiots go out on bad roads on Christmas Eve, knowing full well that if something happens during the travels, they’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to help? Apparently us. Thankfully, God was watching over us and we made it safely to my parents’ home at 2 a.m. where we were greeted with open arms and a warm bed. My husband told me that the whole ordeal was worth it because my mom’s first words to him were, “Thanks for bringing my daughter home for Christmas.” We haven’t learned our lesson, though. Just recently we packed the kids in the car and took an overnight road trip. We’re gluttons for punishment, I guess.
Then there was the Christmas he was away. At war. In Iraq. A deployment changes things. It made me appreciate things I had taken for granted. While I sat around the fire pregnant with our second child and enjoying the festivities with my family, hubs was far away, living a very different every day life. That Christmas, behind the woman who was opening presents and smiling, was a worry. A worry that the holidays brought more fighting and more danger to the other half of my heart who was so far away. A worry that I may never have Christmas with my husband again. Thankfully, he did come home 11 months later. Others didn’t. And even though it’s been three years since the deployment, and even though he doesn’t say anything, I know that he thinks of his soldiers on each holiday we celebrate, including Christmas. We don’t have to say a word. I smile knowingly, grab his hand and kiss his cheek. It’s my way of telling him, “I’ll hold your hand while you miss them. I’m thankful for every day I get to spend with you.” Here’s a little sidenote/exhortation: The Christmas he was deployed (and the entire deployment really) opened my eyes to the reality that life’s too short to spend on petty differences. Take time to appreciate your loved ones. Let them know you care. Write a note. Give a hug. Say, “I love you.” Even when it’s hard to do. ESPECIALLY when it’s hard to do. Life is fragile and fleeting. Don’t take those moments for granted.
The next Christmas, after coming home from Iraq with a torn ACL and having knee surgery shortly after, we decided to still fly home. A flight home from Alaska with a two year old, a nine month old and a gimpy husband with a knee brace and crutches isn’t pleasant. It’s worse than a day-long trip in the car. Trust me. I’ve done both. I prefer the car. But he needed to see family. He had to see family after all he had been through. So we braved it. My father-in-law had ice for his knee as soon as we got in the car at the airport. I think we were still going through the transition period of the homecoming (it takes about six months, and even then, nothing is the same). I don’t remember too much about that Christmas except for his resolve to get home.
That was the last time we spent time with family during Christmas. The last two years we were “stuck” in Alaska, but made the most of it sharing our Christmases with good friends. This year, we’re back in the lower 48 and have plans to celebrate with family once again.
Which leads me to the 4th and final post of this “series”, New Traditions. This year has been so much fun because Firstborn Diva Child and Drama Queen Middle Child are so excited for Christmas. They begged to put up the tree. They picked out our outdoor decorations. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Come back tomorrow for “Why I Heart Christmas: New Traditions” to see what our young family is doing this year to celebrate the coming of the King!