My husband returned from Afghanistan 343 days ago. I haven’t been counting (I used a date calculator), but I did not need to look up the date. December 18th is a very important date for me, as is February 23rd, the day he completed his Kosovo deployment in 2004.
I am thankful to have my husband home this Thanksgiving.
My friend, Laurie, did not mind too much that her husband was not home in time for a turkey dinner. Her husband came in late last night. Since my kids were all in bed, I offered to go and take pictures of their reunion. I assure you, we homefront survivors want those pictures, but we’re not taking them ourselves.
So, I went.
And I wept, sort of. I had to keep pushing images from last December out of my mind and repeating to myself, “Do not cry, do not cry, do not cry.” It’s hard to hold a camera steady if you are sobbing, and I wanted to do a good job. I felt like I was living in a Hallmark movie.
After their initial hugs, they stood facing me for a formal shot and then I beat feet out of there. As I headed for the exit, I passed a woman taking pictures of her husband holding two infants. “Would you like me to take a picture of all of you?” I offered. “Sure,” she replied, but with a questioning tone (who is this random stranger available to take pictures?). I didn’t explain myself – I clicked and left. I hope that poor woman had help this past year.
I’m not much of a Black Friday shopper. I think I went once, before I was married and had very few people for whom to shop. But the Army post is halfway between my home and Toys R Us, and the toy store opened at 10 pm, and I have a $10 coupon. It was not yet 11 pm when I left my friends, so I thought it would be a great idea to get some shopping done while I was all pumped up and happy from cheering and flag waving.
I drove up, took one look at the line to get in the door that stretched across the toy store, across the big store next door and around the corner, and I wimped out. I kept on going to the other exit and drove straight home, no conquering victories to report.
I can't look at those soldier-homecoming pictures and videos, so popular on the web amongst the civilian masses, without breaking down. It hurts too much to think of all we've lost.
We've got our own sort of PTSD, I think.
My Hubby is gone for a year right now. It's been interesting during the holidays. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right chose in living near family when he is away. I've 3 kiddos (4.5, 3, 13 months).
Do you have any advice or have written a post about being military and Catholic? It can be difficult for family (my side is not Catholic) to understand that I want more kids and still be able to move every 3 to 4 years, homeschool, and keep sane while Hubby is gone at different times throughout his service.
I found your blog through Faith and Family comments. Cheers and May God Bless.
Anon, at least half my blog is about being Catholic and military. It is difficult to be on the move with a large brood, but we're managing. Skim the archives.
Jennie, we definitely have our own PTSD. I don't know if you ever read those books a friend suggested years ago and I passed on to you. We just found out that the couple who suggested them got divorced. Heartbreaking. We love this family. Bill says the SF guys with whom he deployed talk about not letting the Taliban take any more casualties than necessary: meaning to protect the family. This time, they got a family of 4. It hurts.