April 6, 2011 at 5:45 am, our soldier returned to us.
Even though this was our third go-'round those butterflies never get any smaller.
The first two deployments, I was friends with Gary's Captain's wife. I never worried about getting a picture of us because she always made sure to snap one for us.
But, she's not around anymore so I half-considered hiring a photographer to catch the moment with us. Enter one of my favorite people, Casey. She offered to come with us, even after the arrival time was before that of the sun. She, seriously, blows my mind.
The hours leading up to the flight's arrival, I was in complete denial. I couldn't believe that it was really happening, that it was really finally over. I had some trouble falling asleep, but did manage to get some before my 2am alarm went off.
Jake. That boy never, ever ceases to amaze me. I went into his room at 3:25am and he was stirring. He looked up at me, smiled and was ready. It's amazing how in-tune we are with one another. He knew awesome was about to go down.
My one-in-a-million friend Casey showed up, happily, at our house 3:45am. She was there for us 100%. It's like this ceremony was as much for her as it was for us. I freakin' love you, Casey!!!
So, I got Jake dressed, he looked ever the stud with his Argyle shirt and low-top Chucks, got myself dressed, and was going to show Casey the settings on our camera. Turned on our expensive, great-quality Nikon, only to have the batteries die. It can zoom in on a picture a football field away, but can't alert me that the batteries are low?
OK, I have to be honest: I didn't give a shizz about the camera. I was uber grateful that it died before we got there. It wouldn't have been my favorite surprise to turn that bad boy on to catch my husband touching U.S. soil for the first time in 10 months and have it die then. That would have been the definition of lamesauce, yes? Although, we did search all Jake's toys for AA's, Casey, savior yet again, brought her camera and saved the day.
The plane landed and, per the uje, they took FOREVER to deplane. They pushed the stairs on up to the door (--->surely there's a more fancy term?) of the plane and just waited. I know they have to link up all their decoder rings and say a chant, or something, but seriously! I almost wet myself with anticipation!
Our handsome soldier spotted us in the crowd, which Casey got video of, and my heart stopped.
Once the Chaplain spoke, and released them, we ran right up into the loving arms of our tall drink of water. Jake, at first, was trying to sleep (even in all the commotion he wanted to sleep. Hey, I trained a bomb dot com sleeper!) and was a little standoffish, but he opened right up. He stared at his daddy, right in the eye, began to rub his cheek--as if to make sure it's really him, and, promptly fell asleep on his shoulder. His dada was home.
Congratulations to all the families in our unit....We did it!!!