R&R. Thank. You. God. If you’re wondering why I’m writing this while he’s asleep next to me, it’s because 1. He’s asleep. 2. All I have right now is the joy of him being home. Next week it will be a whole other story and I just want to capture this moment, this peace.
Jason’s plane touched down in Syracuse, and I swear, my heart was ready to burst out of my chest. I was primped and actually applied make-up for the first time since, oh, probably when he left. I even managed to find time, without the heathens shouting at me, to shave my legs. Dora The Explorer, your country thanks you.
Driving down to Syracuse, parking the car, making it through security, that’s all just a blur. All I could do was watch the minutes pass, and pray they would pass just a wee bit faster. I sat there among all those travelers, watching them read, or accidentally listening to their loudly shouted conversations. All I could think of was that none of them knew what this felt like. Heart pounding, so excited that you’re choking back tears, unable to make it through even a page of the book you pointlessly brought because all you can think is “he’s almost here!”
The plane pulled up to the gate.
I watched as every single person filed off the plane before him, but the gate attendant had already told me that Jason was in the back row. I just wanted to shove all of those people out of my way, but the TSA frowns on rushing the plane while crying hysterically. Luckily, Jason is 6′ 4″, so his head eventually appeared above the crowd.
How do I explain that first embrace? Heaven is too mellow of a word. It’s bliss. It’s like the first moment of sun in a snowy winter (which we had our share of). It’s feeling complete after being broken for far too long. It’s knowing that God has answered 165 nights of prayers and he has made it home to me safely. It’s putting the last piece in the puzzle and admiring your work.
But with that first kiss, all I could think (when I could think…) was “Oh, that’s what this feels like!” In some ways it feels like the first time, and yet it’s just like coming home. I’m not sure how long we held on to each other, but I’m sure we blocked traffic. When we peeled away from each other, it was to the applause of the entire terminal. John Hughes couldn’t have written it any better. He held onto my hand so tightly as we walked through the terminal that he didn’t even notice my wedding ring had literally cut into his finger until we were in the car. At that moment, being close just overrode everything else. But just like that, he slid the seat back and slipped into the driver’s seat in our Quest, and I took my first deep breath in 6 months.
That’s how it’s been around here. It’s shocking to see him next to me, but it’s also like he’s never really left. That first morning, he was up super early thanks to jet lag, and he got the kids up. Wow. I had almost forgotten what it was like to have a partner, and to know that it’s not all on me. I had forgotten what it felt like to sleep more than 5 hours at night. That’s what this feels like! It’s the little things, like having him cooking dinner with me, or grabbing an unruly boy, that’s overwhelming and yet so familiar. It’s smiling in the middle of the night, because he’s woken up and reached across our bed just to make sure that I’m really next to him. It’s seeing him play baseball with our kids and calling out dinner time. It’s every time he smiles at me, or when he steals a kiss when walking by, or watching him rough-house with the boys. That reminder just creeps in…. That’s what this feels like! How quickly it all comes rushing back, the feeling of being a cohesive unit, a complete family.
As much as I want to push this feeling away, and save myself the pain of another readjustment when he leaves in a few days, I can’t help but just savor each minute I have. In these quiet moments, it feels like he never really left; it feels like he’s not leaving again. I know he is, but I’m pulling a Scarlet O’Hara, and I’m thinking about that tomorrow. Not now. Now is for kisses, and secret smiles. Now is for spending our evenings tangled on the couch with movies he’s missed and non-AFN commercials. I’m not always a fan of the US Army, but they certainly got it right with mid-tour. It’s mid-way for us, so it came right when I needed it. Right when I had forgotten what it was like to sleep next to him, when I had forgotten the sound of him coming in the door, and the feel of his skin under my fingertips. I had forgotten what it felt like to not be entirely alone and responsible for everything. But now I remember, and I like now. Now is for being together as much as possible and reminding myself of what this really feels like, so I have something more to hold onto these next 6 months of him finishing this deployment.
Oh yes, I like the “now.”