The Very Thin Silver Lining

Bill was camping last night, and I took advantage of his absence to write an article for a magazine that is due very very soon. The editor asked me to incorporate “how my husband’s military service has benefited my life in a positive way.”

Right now, I am not a happy Army wife. This life is rough, new jobs require adjusting for everybody, and we’ve got residual issues associated with his return from deployment. As optimistic as I like to think I am most of the time, I was having a lot of trouble finding anything positive to say about this life he has dragged me into (it’s all his fault). Finally, I managed to think of something.

Today, I was telling him of my struggles. “Did you finally say that all our separations make us appreciate each other even more?”

“Did you read my article?” I asked.

He hadn’t. He just knows me that well.

In the news

This article about where we were on Thursday has an erroneously labeled photo.

But this one has a really nice profile shot of hubby. What a good-lookin’ guy.

We are really excited to be serving with wounded warriors. Some hard jobs come with tremendous job satisfaction, and this is sure to be one of them.

Christmas Memories

This Christmas, I am very grateful to have my husband home. I know that there are many readers of this blog who are not as lucky, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers.

If you feel the need to have a sharp knife piercing your heart, check out this video: Bring Him Home Santa.

Six years ago, Bill was not home for Christmas. It was a bad holiday. Back then, I wrote about what it was like, and a few years ago, I posted that memory on my blog. I’ve come a long way in six years, and would like to think that things wouldn’t be as bad now that I have children who are older and more helpful. I’m not sure, though. Older children have different ways of making life difficult.

If Santa didn’t bring your soldier home this Christmas, I sincerely hope that the rest of his deployment goes quickly for you. And if you have no deployed soldier in your life, try to say a prayer today for those who can not fully experience the joy of Christmas, especially the children.


Shortly after my last post, the computer finally informed me that HE was en route. Theoretically leaving our house at the same time that he left Atlanta, we got in the car, fought rush-hour traffic (going in the good direction, but nonetheless, traffic), parked the car in the hourly lot, and herded ourselves into the airport to the nearest arrival screen.

His plane was already here! It was not yet assigned to a gate.

I tried to get in a line to talk to an airline rep, but she announced that this was not a line to talk to her. Talk to the hand, folks.

We went upstairs to ticketing. The line was enormous. People were anxious and frustrated because a HUGE storm was heading this way, and they wanted to escape before getting stuck here. I can sympathize.

I left the kids in line and went over to the board again. A gate had been posted: seventeen. I pulled the kids out of line, and we went in that direction. I talked to the security man, and he told me that to get to the gate, I’d need a gate pass from that really long ticket line. But then he pointed to the hallway where the passengers would all come out, and suggested we just wait there (oh, you mean that spot right there with all those people standing and waiting?).

Checking the board, I saw that the plane was still not at the gate, so we walked just a bit down from that entry hallway to the big windows where, as luck would have it, we could see Gates 15, 17 and 19. There was a plane docked at 19, and another plane approaching. We watched it park – at 15. We waited.

Then Peter had to go to the bathroom, so I hauled everybody about 50 yards to the nearest one. When we got out, the boys who waited outside were hopping around: It’s here!

We got to the hallway and joined the crowd. Passengers were just beginning to stream off. Lots of soldiers. I watched a young Private being greeted by his parents and some teen aged girls: sisters, I assumed. One girl took a picture, and the mom was crying. I was crying.

More people came off. No Bill. The kids started getting antsy. They moved farther and farther into the hallway to try to get that first glimpse. Still no Bill. I started to worry about what would happen if he wasn’t on the flight. I didn’t think I could face my kids’ disappointment. Or mine.

We waited.

Finally, there he was. I saw him before the kids did. Our eyes met, and he smiled.. “He’s coming!” I told the kids who strained hard to see him over all these tall people who didn’t seem to understand that whatever their errand or destination or business was, it was not nearly as important as this business of ours, this reunion, this welcome home.

And then they saw him, and swarmed him. I stayed to the side with Mary, out of the way, watching, crying. Finally, some of the other people noticed our group, and recognized the significance of this soldier’s arrival. “Well, this is a Merry Christmas,” said one woman to my husband.

Mary squirmed in my arms, and I let her down to run to her Daddy. He lifted her and turned to me, wading his way with the weight of clinging, crying children. And then a welcoming kiss.

He’s home. What a marvelous Christmas this is.

I started to take a picture right after we met, but a woman passing by kindly offered to take one of all of us.

It took a while to get his bags, but we made it out to the van, loaded up and then headed for the McDonalds close to where Fritz was to play laser tag. Welcome home, hon, let’s dine in style! But it was getting late. Fritz barely had time to scarf down his food before I walked him over for his 8 pm start time, and it was 830 before we neared home with the snow beginning to fall.

When the little ones were asleep, and the older boy reclining on the sofa waiting for his roommate to return, we were finally alone. Of course, the clothes came off. I put down the Mom hat. Discarded the Strong Woman cloak. Laid aside the shield of Fortitude and the breastplate of Perseverance. Then the many layers of garments: Single Parent, Bill Payer, Sole Decision Maker, Lone Disciplinarian, One Who Never Sleeps, One Who Never Cries, Happy Face, Comforter, Good Fortune Teller.

Eventually I was left with just a few skimpy undergarments: Feminine, Emotional, Sensitive, Vulnerable with a sheer, frilly robe of Wife covering them. What then?

I sobbed.

Many times, I have cried. At the airport, it was joy and relief. Other times, it was worry or exhaustion or frustration peeking out like a too long slip. This, though, was an emotional release. In my husband’s arms, the trial was over. I am no longer alone. I can be strong, or not. I have a choice, whereas only a few hours earlier, I had to be strong no matter what.

He is home. My heart is at peace.


My husband is very mission oriented. Unfortunately, I am not the mission. Yet.

So when he called – finally – he explained that he just didn’t think of calling me. They were very very busy. If a plane had crashed it would have been on the news, so why was I worried? Like I can’t think of 1000 other tragedies that could befall him.

He has forgotten how upset he gets if I go missing. “Why didn’t you take your phone?” or “Why didn’t you answer your phone?” he’ll say. Once even: “Why do I pay for this phone if I can’t reach you when I want you?”

How did we function a mere 10 years ago without these modern conveniences?

He is expected to arrive at bedtime tonight. He will try to catch an earlier flight. Only Fritz knows, because Fritz is scheduled to play laser tag with his Scout troop tonight, so he had to choose. He chose laser tag over picking dad up at the airport. Good choice. The other kids will get one big Christmas surprise tonight. Katie asked me earlier, “Are we doing anything fun today?”

I should think so.

Puttering around

Cleaning out the medicine cabinet. Moving my stuff back to my side from where it has migrated over to his side. Refilling the Q-tip holder. Getting a new toothbrush out for him.

Hanging a towel for him on his rack.

Taking my tampons out of his sock drawer (tough to explain that one…exploratory toddler hadn’t found them there yet).

Moving my perfume to a more accessible location.

Checking his drawers and making sure I didn’t stash anything odd in there. Finding his favorite watch that he had just gotten repaired last June and didn’t want to take overseas. Putting it on his valet. Realizing I never took his summer clothes out when I see a full drawer of shorts. Moving them to a shelf in the closet.

Finding his slippers and putting them front and center.

Hanging new nightgowns near the front of my closet. Vowing to wear only impractical underwear for a week.

Debating what to wear to the airport. I’m sure I’ll change my mind several times in the next few days.

Noting the location of certain special pieces of jewelry. Putting on my wedding and engagement rings that I am out of the habit of wearing.

Putting away the projects cluttering my room. They can wait.

Everything can wait.


Would you drive an hour, late at night, to see your husband for a brief period only to tearfully say goodbye again (and drive home, even later at night)?

Or would you spend that time cleaning your house or baking cookies or blogging about how close he is, but you can’t see him, knowing that you’ll see him, for good, in another 40 hours?

Advice, please! If I’m going to see him on his layover, I need to arrange the babysitter!