I have my beloved home with me again! He arrived at about 11:30pm
on Tuesday evening. I received a phonecall from my FRG (Family Readiness
Group) leader at around 10am informing me that the plane was en route
to Ireland for a stopover before continuing on to Eielson AFB here
in Alaska. From that moment on, I had butterflies in my stomach in
anticipation of having my husband home safe and sound.
above for full page graphic)
At 10:45pm, I followed my friends Rachael and Susan
to the AHA (Alert Holding Area) building, where the first group
of our soldiers were scheduled to arrive. The place was already
jam packed with wives, children, families, friends and the press.
There were banners, balloons, flowers, signs, and the feeling of
excitement enveloped all of us.
Once I found out which way the buses would be coming
into the building, I made my way to that end of the seating area
and stood near the band. I wanted Steve to see me as he filed into
formation. The crowd was just buzzing with excitement and anticipation.
Local news crews and photojournalists were there taking photos and
interviewing some families.
All of a sudden we saw the buses pulling up outside
the huge garage doors and the crowd erupted in a cheer and applause.
Tears immediately flooded my eyes. I was shaking like a leaf and
my stomach was doing flipflops. I took some photos of the bus arrival,
and the soldiers getting off of the bus, but haven't downloaded
them yet. There were four buses and they lined up in a row and threw
open the doors. One by one, camouflaged bodies climbed off and assembled
in a group. The crowd was going nuts! Our soldiers were a mere 20
yards from us, close enough to actually see, but far enough away
that we couldn't pick our loved ones out of the sea of uniforms.
There was a haphazard lining up and march to the area
where formation would be held (front and center), and no one even
cared that everyone was out of step and moving at different paces.
I'm sure all these soldiers wanted to get at us, as much as we wanted
to get at them. There was a brief formation, and a two-minute speech
which no one could hear because the sound system left a lot to be
desired - and because no one was paying attention anyway.
Then I heard the word "dismissed" and the
group broke up into bodies running everywhere. It was like an ant
hill had erupted. I scanned the crowd, looking for Steve but couldn't
find him. All around me people were hugging and kissing, and I stood
there with Rachael and Susan saying, "Do you see him??!!!!"
and "I can't see him!!!!".
All of a sudden, from across the room, and from behind
the crowd, I saw him zig-zagging between hugging bodies, and running
toward me. I dropped my purse at my feet and closed the few yards
between us. That first moment when our arms went around each other
was magical. Knowing he was finally home for good added so much
emotion to the reunion. Tears fell from both our eyes and we held
each other tighter than ever.
After a few minutes of hugging and kissing, we turned
to Rachael and Susan (who were taking photos) and Steve hugged the
both of them as they welcomed him home. I felt so bad for them.
Here I was celebrating one of the most joyful days of my life, and
they didn't have their husbands home. Rachael started crying, which
made me cry harder. That moment just tore at my heart. I wish that
all of our soldiers would have come home together. I wish that all
of us were standing there smiling and crying with joy, and holding
onto our men. It was a very bittersweet event.
When we got home (around midnight or so - I don't
remember), we were both wide awake with happiness. We popped a bottle
of champagne and toasted our reunion and our future. We stayed up
until 2am, before falling into a blissfully deep sleep. We woke
up a little after 8am (the constant daylight was messing with Steve's
internal clock), and I got my first cup of coffee brought to me.
:) I really missed that! At 10am, Steve went with me when I walked
with Rachael and the furkids. I don't think he'll be doing that
again. His ankle was really sore afterward (he's got pins in his
ankle and is a bit out of shape as far as walking long distances).
But it was good to get out walking, and I intend to keep up my schedule
We came home and watched a movie. The last thing I
remember was cuddling on the sofa with Steve. He nudged me awake
and we went up to bed for an afternoon nap. (I never nap in the
afternoon!) It was 2pm. We didn't wake up again until 6pm. His exhaustion
was from jet lag. Mine was from relief. What a joy to doze off with
his body wrapped around mine. We planned to go downtown for the
Midnight Sun Celebration - Summer Solstice, but were still so groggy,
we decided to pass. It's the first time I missed the festival since
we got here, but I think I had a good reason this time.
This morning, Steve made omelets and bagels for breakfast
(I'm so happy to have the cook home!). We ran a few errands. He
had a footlocker waiting at the post office for pickup. We needed
to go by the bank and get him an ATM card, because he doesn't remember
where he stored the one he was issued before the deployment. (It's
somewhere in the house) .
Steve is going back to work tomorrow. Normally we're
supposed to have 72 hours off after a deployment, but there is much
to be done in preparation for the return of the rest of the Brigade.
He'll be working long hours too. It's a very small sacrifice to
make. I'm fortunate to have him safe in my bed at night. I can't
wait until my friends have their husbands home too.
I am so glad this is finally over for us. I am so
thankful that he came home alive. I continue to pray for all of
our troops, that they may return safe and sound to their families.
Your continued support is appreciated.
I'm a very happy woman.