In case you missed it (because I know weekends can be crazy), I had two great things happen recently:
- Stephen came home!
- My blog turned 1!
When I announced that Stephen returned, I didn’t really give y’all any of the goods. So here’s how his return went down:
Stephen knew when leave would be far in advance, so I had his return date marked on my calendar for weeks. The closer it got, the more stressed out I became. It is such a mix of emotions to anticipate reuniting. I felt like people expected me to just be happy, but it’s much more complicated than that. How has he changed? How have I changed? What will it be like to live together (although briefly) again? How will we interact with each other? Will we still make each other happy? All this to say, if you are reuniting with your spouse after a long time apart, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, and stressed, and frustrated, and any other combination of emotions.
Stephen had requested that I pick him up from the airport by myself. (This was also what we did for his R&R in October; I went to the airport solo so I could whisk him home ASAP.) Well, this time around, I told him that it’d just be me, but in fact, I invited our family and friends to come to the airport to give Stephen the welcome home that he deserves. In the end 15 people joined me in waiting at the terminal!
The day of his homecoming, I was a mess. I checked his flight status online incessantly. That morning I also ran, did push-ups, did sit-ups, vacuumed, did 3 loads of laundry, dusted, and paced around my house until I couldn’t take it any more. I was a whirling dervish!
I ended up getting to the airport about an hour before his flight was scheduled to arrive. It turned out that Stephen’s flight was ahead of schedule and would arrive a bit early. It made me really glad that I got there far in advance. I hung out near the baggage claim with Stephen’s mom until more people started to trickle in. With the arrival of each additional person in our party, I got more excited and it felt more real.
At last, Stephen’s plane arrived. Everyone in our group stood off to the side, half hidden by a wall. I stood directly in front of the revolving doors that all the deplaning passengers were ushered through. Eventually, people started to come out the doors. With every person that wasn’t my husband, I’d anxiously look over at our group. I hated standing there alone. (It was so nerve-wracking!) But it was also appropriate. Stephen and I had endured the separation together, separate from everyone else. We needed a big moment to reunite. Luckily, my group offered reassurance every time I glanced over at them.
I finally saw Stephen’s yellow shirt on the other side of the window. My heart was beating so fast. I felt overcome with happiness and just had to smile. As the revolving door spat him out, we stepped toward one another. I threw my arms around him and started to cry. He made it home.
After a few long hugs and kisses, Stephen said, “Lets get my stuff and go home.”
“Well,” I told him, “Everyone is here!” and I turned to face him to where everyone was standing, essentially out in the open. 15 friends and family members with flags and signs, waiting to welcome him home! Stephen was surprised (mission accomplished!) and happy to see everyone. There were tons of pictures taken and many hugs given.
It was such a happy moment! I wish I had a picture of the group, but picture-taking was low on my to-do list at the time.
We waited for Stephen’s suitcase, which took a while to appear, and talked, smiled, took pictures. Everyone got to spend time with Stephen, and they left little by little just as they had arrived. Stephen’s suitcase appeared, we scooped it up, and the two of us drove home together. For the past few days, we’ve just been enjoying each other’s company and trying to figure out how to be around each other again.
I have to say: it is blissful being together. Although people say, “Of course he made it home!” as a military spouse, there is always a part of you that wonders. And there are those that don’t return. He was in a war, and that’s scary business. I’m so thankful that I can wrap my arms around Stephen again. It’s a day that I honestly didn’t know that I would ever get to see.
I’m also eternally grateful for the other men and women who volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way and the families that support them. Thank you to those of you still fighting and to those of you still waiting to be reunited. You are never far from my heart and my prayers.
For the next few weeks, posting won’t be as regularly as usual. I haven’t seen my husband in over 250 days. I know y’all will understand!*