This past week brought the moment our family has been dreaming of. The moment that ten months ago seemed so far away... Our Soldier came home. And just in time for the holidays! You could certainly say that Christmas came early at our house!
A few weeks ago I wrote asking for homecoming advice. I needed advice on how to make the return special, how to welcome him home without stressing myself out beforehand and how to make the reunion easy on our two kids. The advice and stories that you shared were invaluable, and left me with great excitement and anticipation of our own upcoming reunion.
There aren't sufficient words to describe my husband's homecoming; joyous, emotional, exhilarating... No words could do the moment justice. It was like a scene from a fairy tale and everything that I imagined it would be. There aren't too many moments in life that I can say that about. From the hours leading up to the Soldiers' arrival at the old hangar to the first hugs and kisses after they were released, it was perfect in my mind. Although, I think going into the homecoming ceremony with no real expectations helped to create that perfect scene. At that moment though, I think there was very little that could have dampened the mood. Our Soldiers were home and soon they would be ours again. The joy and excitement that filled that airplane hangar was like none I have ever felt before. It almost made the long months of separation worth it. Almost. While I can't say that I would sign up for another deployment anytime soon, the reunion with my husband was the best reward I could receive for holding down the homefront.
At the homecoming ceremony we were only given an hour before the Soldiers had to board the buses to head to demobilization, but just knowing that he was back in the same state and out of harm's way made that "goodbye" easier than any other before. I knew where he was and what he was doing. I could call him when I needed him, and did not have to look for the green dot on Facebook to say he was online (although I do find that I still check my Facebook chat to look for him, even though he may be sitting next to me on the couch...old habits die hard!). The days he spent at demob I spent readying the house for his "real" homecoming. I stocked the refrigerator with his favorite foods, cleaned the house, cleared our schedules for the following week, hung the "Welcome Home" banner, among other small tasks. I know that I stressed more than I needed to about making sure things were perfect, but in my mind everything had to be that way and I was happy to do it. Cleaning and putting everything in order certainly helped pass the time too!
But overall we kept things simple. I arranged for the kids to spend the night at a friend's house on his first night home so that he could relax at home and we could have time together before the kids required his full attention. I planned a nice, home-cooked meal, which he ended up cooking because he had missed that task so much (yay for me!). We also told very few people when he would be home so that he didn't feel pulled in multiple directions during his first few days home. I think by not going overboard and keeping things simple, he has been able to ease back into "home" much easier and not feel so overwhelmed.
I know that we are still basking in the newness of having my husband home and that there will be less than perfect moments in the future. That's life. But this deployment has taught us all a lot and has changed us in many ways. It has given us a greater appreciation for our family and for each other. It has made us realize the things that are really important and those that are not. It has helped up put our priorities in order. We are excited for a new beginning of sorts. One where our marriage and our family come first, and we look forward to what the future brings. We know that we are stronger than before and that we can handle whatever comes our way. So where before I looked to the future unknown with fear, now I look to it with excitement and eagerness. I know that we've got this. We can do it...as long as we're together.