I am trying to organize my thoughts without jumping around from all the weekend's events. I am still trying to believe it myself, but my husband is home safely from Afghanistan. The days leading up were so emotionally draining because as soon as we got an update and made our calls to family members, we would get another update that the time would change. If you don't know, that is the Army way. You can't get mad at any one person, but the situation gets so frustrating. As much as you know that it can change (and it will), you can't help but get your hopes up when you have a time in your head. The hold up was caused by a group who was ahead, in Kyrgyzstan (John's group), waiting for another battery who was held up in Afghanistan for close to a week.
The time was finally confirmed Saturday morning that they would be to Green Ramp, a plane hanger and huge waiting room for families on Pope Air Force Base, at 3:45 p.m. Right when I got there, 2 hours early, they told me it would be 4:15 instead and, at that point, no one cared. We weren't going anywhere until they were home!
At T-minus 20 minutes, the army band warmed up and they opened the hanger door so we could walk out and watch the plane come in. As the announcer said, "If you look out, you can see our Warriors coming in," my heart started beating 100 miles per minute. The second the wheels hit the ground, applause and cheers broke out from all the family and friends. It seemed like forever as we waited for the stairs were set in position and the door to open, but more cheers as we began to see the maroon berets and acu uniforms file out and down those stairs. They formed up, raising the battalion flag in front, and marching into the door of the hanger.
I was trying to video the ceremony of the star-spangled banner and a couple of comments that were in one ear and out the other, all while I frantically panned the soldiers for my John. I thought to myself, "He's probably in the middle somewhere," so I wasn't looking in the front row. When I did pan the front and my eyes stopped on him, I LOST IT. There he was, hands folded behind his back, staring at me, smiling as much as he could without breaking out of formation. I blame all the tears on my raging pregnancy hormones, but from that point I didn't care about my makeup or how I looked...he was home.
They were told to fall out of formation and that they would have 15 minutes with family until they were to load up the busses and go turn in their weapons and get their bags, which we were told would take about 2 hours. There are no words for the following, but I'll try my best...
He darted through the crowd, ignoring a few of his co-workers only to say, "I have to go see my wife." I threw my arms around him and the whole world disappeared. We didn't let go for those 15 minutes, only far enough for John to rub my baby belly in amazement of how much he/she has grown. They were released around 7:30 to go home. John felt the baby move for the first time on the way home.
We had Christmas that night, and John was like a kid opening up all his gifts. The next day was just like normal, as if he had never left, but it wasn't...we don't take for granted the time we get to spend together. In the last few days, I've realized some of the little moments that I missed when he was gone:
*looking up and seeing someone else at the other side of the dinner table
*sitting in church together and hearing his voice as he sings worship songs
*someone to open the car door for me and drive ME around
*sharing the details with each other, not just the important stuff because we only have 15 min to talk
*holding your best friend's hand
Thanks for reading. Thanks for praying. Thanks for rejoicing with us. Please keep praying for the soldiers and the families who are, because we are finished with this deployment, are just beginning their journey this year. We love all of you and want to be there with you as you welcome your soldier home...the day will come.
xo, Kristin & John
**video clips coming soon!**