I’ve been writing about deployment and reintegration a lot. It’s my life right now, and it’s harder than I anticipated. I thought it would be magically easy, since my husband and I had some key conversations to prepare us for the changes that occurred for all of us while he was gone.
When I wrote my previous post, my husband and I were preparing for homecoming and reintegration.
The homecoming day (that only changed a couple times) has come and gone. We’re now in the trenches of reintegration.
I say “trenches” not because it’s bad, but because there are highs and lows, including some I didn’t expect. (Silly me, thinking I could plan for everything.)
A few weeks ago, my husband called to give me his anticipated homecoming date. I was ecstatic to hear that; while still a ways off. the date was earlier than I expected. Time to prepare for reintegration
I’m not letting myself write it down until he’s on the plane though… I’m too accustomed to plans changing.
I held him tight.
I thought perhaps the tighter and longer I held him, it would create muscle memory for me to run to when I needed it for next nine months of separation.
I tried to stay in the moment, but my eyes landed on families, children, husbands, and wives all around me wiping tears and giving their service member a last hug goodbye.
Saying “see ya later” at the deployment send-offs are simply the worst. It’s another “hurry up and wait” occasion that we as military families have become all too familiar with; however, this particular hurry-up-and-wait is brutal. Like pulling a band aid off, please make it quick and easy and as painless as possible.
“I can’t wait to be home.”
This was the text I received from my husband earlier today, about six months into our most recent deployment.
The funny thing is, he won’t be coming home to a place he knows. I’m packing our kids and saying goodbye to my family, moving across the country, and unpacking all our things in a house he’s never seen, nor I for that matter, on a base we haven’t lived before.
As the countdown slowly ticks away to homecoming, there’s a standard preparation you can expect.
For some reason, the perfect outfit seems to be at the top of the list. Over the years, and after attending more than 50 homecomings, I’ve seen some pretty epic outfits. The one that takes the cake is the spouse who dressed in an inflatable T-rex costume, one I didn’t see personally, but Google can help you witness it. Besides the outfit, there are the signs, the kids’ outfits (if applicable), getting the house cleaned up, and so much more.
It takes me a grand total of 2.6 minutes to start dreaming of my husband’s sweet homecoming after he departs for a deployment, school, or extended time in the field. That isn’t an exaggeration. Less than three minutes after he leaves for a “trip,” I’m already plotting and planning for his return: what I’ll wear, where we’ll go to dinner, our first date night agenda, and the beer selection I’ll have waiting for him at home. I dream of those day dates at pumpkin patches, cooking experiments in our kitchen, and trips to the state park with our pups.
Maybe you can relate to this—I spend so much time dreaming about a picturesque reunion that I forget about reality.
Join the AWN team this week on Army Wife Talk Radio a talk with Leanne Knobloch, an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois. Her research focuses on how romantic couples communicate during times of transition within marriage. For the past couple of years, she has been studying how military couples negotiate the reunion period following deployment.
A whole month of this new year has quickly passed by, and it’s now been two months since my husband returned from Iraq. It seems like just yesterday we were anxiously awaiting his return in that cold airplane hangar. And then there are other days when it feels like he has been home forever and that the long deployment was only a bad dream.
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