My husband recently had his R&R, and came home. In short, it was amazing, and felt like a dream that I never wanted to wake up from – I had my husband again.
I had anticipated my husband coming home on a certain day, per his expectations of getting out of his FOB, bouncing around a couple of countries, and finally flying into the states. I was working up to two days prior to the day he was expecting to come home, and had planned to use those two days to relax, clean, catch up on laundry, and pack – since we were planning on staying in hotels. Then, the morning of my first day off from work, my husband calls me, from the airport in the US that he was flown into before getting a connecting flight home, and he asked me if I’d be able to meet him at the airport that evening. Of course! I was super excited, but then in a hurry to do as much as I could get done in ONE day, that I had planned to do in three. Kind of a bummer, since I like to plan, and I sometimes get annoyed when my plans get rearranged. But, it’s my husband, I hadn’t seen him in months, so it was worth it.
I got to the airport a half hour before my husband’s flight landed. I felt like I could have passed out by the time I got my Guest Pass that allowed me to meet him at the gate, and got through security, I was so excited. I was partially aware of all of the people in the airport, at the gate, waiting for the flight coming in so that they could board the plane and be on their way to their destination. But mostly my eyes were on the window, and the woman working behind the desk at the gate, as I could hear her relay information to someone over her radio “3 minutes”…”1 minutes”…and “zero minutes”, as the flight was coming in for a landing. I spotted the plane in the sky, as it circled the runway for its approach to land, and saw it as it landed and zoomed by the window, before it made its way back to the gate. My whole body felt anxious…I hadn’t seen, smelt, or held my husband in months, and now he was in our home state again, and just a short distance away.
When they unloaded the plane, the three men flying in from deployment were allowed off first…my husband was the second one to walk through the gate. I was beaming, and would have leapt into his arms if he wasn’t loaded down by his bags. I wrapped my arms around his neck, and held him tight, as he greeted me with a, “Hi, Honey.” Ooh, I didn’t want to let go. It felt surreal that I was holding him.
Once we got to our hotel and checked into our room, my husband produced from one of his bags a gummy-bear shaped container filled with Haribo gummy bears. He remembered they’re my favorite, and managed to get them for me during his layover in Germany! I couldn’t believe it, it was such a big deal to me. LOVE him!
We spent his R&R doing things he wanted to do – going out to eat at places he missed going to, trying delicious new places, visiting familiar places, shopping, seeing family and friends he missed…We spent one day snowshoeing. And I was so excited that during his time at home, we got hit with a snow storm – he and I both love the snow, and even though getting to see white snow on the ground was nice for him, it was even better that he got to see and go out in an actual snow storm.
But, honestly, the BEST part about my husband being home, aside from the part of him actually being home, is that it was as though we’d never been apart. We still got each other the same ways we did before he left, finished each other’s thoughts, mentioned something the other was thinking, and interacted the same familiar ways. It wasn’t really awkward being together, talking, interacting, it was the same…fluid, in a way, if you will. Which was so nice.
Saying good-bye this time around was so much harder than before…which I really can’t explain. We got to the airport an hour before boarding, and had a half hour by the time we got his boarding pass and my guest pass, and got through security. I just held onto him while we sat and waited, and conversed in some small talk. I started to tear up once, and he told me not to cry. I knew I had to be strong for him, because seeing me sad would make him sadder than he already was. So I kept it in.
He boarded the plane, after many “one last hug and kiss”-es, and I walked over to the window, to watch the plane as it left the gate, made its way down the runway, and came back by for takeoff. My lip started to quiver as the plane pulled from the gate, and some tears streamed down my face. I didn’t want to make a scene of myself in the airport, so I wiped them away, and fought back the sobs I knew would eventually come – just hopefully in the privacy of my car. Eventually, the plane left site as it drove down the runway, and eventually came back as its wheels left the ground. I watched it for as long as I could as it ascended into the air, which wasn’t long before I lost it in the fog and clouds.
Feeling like a zombie, or an empty shell, I made my way back to my car in the parking garage, fighting tears and sniffles once I got outside, and couldn’t fight the inevitable sob any more as I unlocked my car and opened my door. I sat in my car and sobbed for minutes, as I felt the emptiness of being without my husband overwhelm me once again, of not having him sitting in the car with me, holding my hand as I drive anywhere again for the next few months. Of not falling asleep with him and waking up with him in the morning. Of not being with him. Then I cried harder as I thought about how my husband would make fun of me crying and sobbing and hyperventilating…I wanted to laugh at the thought, but all I could do was cry.
I had wanted to stick around town and do some shopping, but the stores were a few hours from opening, and I didn’t want to dub around that long, not that day. So I made my drive back home, thinking about how to start again my life as the wife of a deployed soldier, living day in and day out independently without my husband. I tell ya, right now, it still seems like a daunting, impossible task. In the matter of two weeks, I got so used to being a wife again, being with my husband, that I seem to have forgotten how I managed to live without him in my life daily. We’ll have to see how this goes.