So my person's husband, Levi, is back from his 13 month deployment to Iraq. He's home. It's over. Through heart wrenching goodbyes, frustrating phone dates, sleepless nights Beth has been strong and been an absolutely incredible mother. She has done something that many women cannot do. She not only stayed faithful to her husband, but she constantly and increasingly adored him, all the while raising their young son.
Today I had a few beautifully surreal moments. I was doing something on my computer with some pictures and I saw my "Homecoming" folder from when Gabe came home in March. And at the same moment I saw the "Levi Homecoming" folder from Tuesday when he came home. My heart warmed seeing both titles. It may seem odd, but "deployment" for me did not fully end until Levi came home to Beth. I didn't realize that until Tuesday. For Beth and I the past 18 months or so have been a journey that we've shared. Before Levi left for Iraq she was taking care of me: hanging out in all her pregnant-ness, cooking for me when I was too depressed to eat, arranging for my lawn to be mowed or my weeds to be pulled... She saw my heart break over and over. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in her position: seeing your near future right before you. But she was such a good friend to me. She was the only one who really knew the depth of my struggles and she was never too far from me. Her deployment didn't start in June. Her deployment started the hour she decided to befriend me. And my deployment ended Tuesday. So I can't really seperate the two. It was our deployment.
I made some hot dogs on the George Foreman grill for lunch while Gabe was at work today. At the house in Raeford I used to make hot dogs every day because they were easy and they tasted good. When I smelled them cooking I was back in that house. I was all alone, my husband at war, my TV making noise and my person just down the street. I felt, in that moment, young and unsure. I realized that I've grown so much this past year and a half. I've developed a new understanding of love, faith and family. And the road was so wonderful and messy... I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's not easy to say goodbye to any era in your life; even the ones that sting and burn. I'm glad that it is all finally over, but it is just a little bittersweet.
Beth experienced, as I experience sometimes, the unreasonable anxiety that comes over you without warning when you find yourself suddenly whole again. The demon that tells you he isn't really here or that he is leaving you. But that just isn't true now is it? For once we can say that the war doesn't get to have them. We get to keep our hearts inside us and tell the Army to leave us alone. Well done, Person. We made it. And we'll keep "making it" even when it gets hard and we feel unsure. Even when we smell hot dogs and find fear of being left behind.
Well done to any wife of a soldier who has come out the other end of a deployment with her integrity. Something has been accomplished here that goes beyond missions and wars. And for you whose love is still away or close to leaving, you're going to be just fine.
God is so good. All the time.