I've been thinking about the first 2 times Gary came home from Iraq. I've been thinking about these because they give me hope! They remind that as hellish as this situation is, the coming-home ceremony...it gives me goosebumps!!
The first time Gary came home, I was told what week they'd be getting in, no hard date, so I flew out to TN to set up our apartment. He called one day to say he'd be in the next day! I was soo excited, but I should have known that from the FRG (Family Readiness Group). They call to give you all the info.
I was friends with Gary's captain's wife at the time, so I called her to get the details. It was an EARLY in the morning call. We had to be at the buses that would take us to the airfield, to see our soldiers, around 5am! So, since I found out in the late afternoon of the night before, while trying to set up our new apartment, I didn't have a chance to go get a fabulous new outfit. I wore a very cute green dress, with a jean jacket. And, I spoke to my friend, Gabby, for an HOUR about said outfit. FOR ONE HOUR, WE DISCUSSED THE PROS AND CONS OF CUFFING THE SLEEVES OF MY JACKET VERSUS NOT. That slays me!! But, hey, I hadn't seen my love for some time, every aspect of me had to be perfect!!
So, early in the morning, I'm heading to post, in our rental, the HHR (I didn't have a choice in what car I rented, vut it actually was really nice!). It was my first time ever driving on post solo. When I pull up to the gate, I'm all pumped to show my ID and head on through, with my cuffed sleeves.
All I have is my ID. The guard asks "Do you have a pass for the rental car?" My heart sank to my tippiest toe. "No" I whisper. I went from having the hugest smile, probably bordering on creepy, to those doe-eyes begging for mercy. He just smiled and let me on through. Luckily, he wasn't a turd burglar. He knew I was there for the hubs return!
So, do you remember what I was wearing? The green dress & jean jacket, right? Well, on this particular day, in late September, in the SOUTH, it's about 40* out, and that may be generous. I was FREEZING.
I filed onto the bus that would take us to the airfield. HEAT. A HEATED bus!! I was grateful, to say the least. I kept seeing all these women walk by in sweats and big ol' jackets. I'm sorry, but we could be in the middle of the North Pole, -25* and a windchill of about 117, and I'd still wear something cute to greet my husband off that plane. Probably not smart at all, but I can't help it! I mean, it's not like we won't be makin' some heat later!
So, we're bussed over the hangar, where we're all cattle-like guided to where we need to be. I sat on the very bottom bleacher, on the very end. There was NO WAY I was going to get swept up in the masses, my hubby was gonna see me jumpin' for joy!!
One of the Rear D commanders comes up to the podium and says "They're about 45 minutes away" We all cheer! I swear, 5 minutes later he comes back up and says "If you'd like to head outside, they're about 15 minutes away"
At this point, my heart is LEAPING OUT OF MY CHEST. LEAPING.OUT.OF.MY.CHEST. It was soo intense!! So, we go out to the flightline. There's about 200 of us, holed up into this tiny corner of the fence, but not one of us cared :)
We see the big plane land, and those tall stairs get pushed up next to it. They stand up there at the door of the plane & talk for what seems like ETERNITY. Then?
They start filing out.
The crowd ROARS.
My heart stops.
My husband is the 3rd soldier to walk off the plane.
We look right at each other, but neither of us could do anything but have big, stupid-happy grins on our faces. Since, I saw him walk by, and they have to line up for formation to go into the hangar, I ran back to claim my post (ie, special bleacher seat). And wait. Gary was the off the plane so fast because he was one of the "lucky" ones selected to help with baggage when they were leaving Kuwait. He was not happy 'til he realized where that meant he'd be sitting!
Everyone comes back in, all high on seeing their soldiers!!, & get situated. Next thing we know, the band starts playing, and the hangar doors slide open. Our soldiers march into that hangar. The crowd has ERUPTED!!!! Gary & I spot each other again & just stare. We just stare at each other with looks of contentment I've never before seen.
After what feels like an hour of speeches etc. (in reality, about 15 minutes...aka, eternity), they're dismissed!!!!
It was all in slow motion. I saw everyone around me all blurry, getting/giving x's and o's.
Then, seriously, the crowd parts and my husband is standing in front of me, with the biggest smile on his face, arms wide open, in the midst of getting ready to wrap me in the biggest bear hug imaginable.
I run up into his arms like I've never ran before.
We just stand there hugging. In the middle of dozens of families. Hugging.
I remember patting all over his back, as we hugged, sort of, making sure it was real. That my hubby was in my arms again!
Don't worry...he was :)
This is where I stop, friends..... ;)
There is a part 2 to this post! Reunion #2 is equally as memorable....