Everything has been moving in fast-forward time, it seems. The days have been rolling by and sometimes it feels like the day has only just started before it’s over again. It’s been such a busy month for us. And the hours keep marching on, bringing us all closer and closer to another deployment. But since that’s inevitable, there’s nothing to be done for it but to make the best of the unexpected time we’ve been given. And our days have been full!
First of all, and best of all, Jason came home. It was such a great day. Although I was initially pretty put out that Jason was not able to return home a day early with the rest of the squadron, getting to be there when the ship pulled in was an experience that I’m glad I got to have. So many people, all there for the same purpose, everyone joyful. It’s so easy to get swept up in the emotion of the crowd, and it feels great to be a part of it all. The moment when the carrier comes into view across the harbor, and you realize that the ship is right there and that your loved one is on it… it is something really special. I can’t describe it in the way I’d like to. To finally understand that the physical distance is gone, your heart goes up in your throat, your eyes get teary, and you look at the other people gathered around and you see your own joy and anticipation reflected back at you.The camaraderie and the building excitement as the ship crept closer and closer is something that I still feel fortunate to have been a part of, and something I’ll always remember.
And then all there was to do was wait more. Eventually, the bells started ringing and sailors came streaming off the ship. Although they let officers off the ship first, it seemed like we stood there forever, craning in the crowd, looking for a cover (the uniform hat, it took me a while to start using the right terminology, heh) bobbing along a bit higher than most in the sea of people. And then, finally, finally… I saw him coming our way. I had to look once, then twice; just to be sure. And then I held onto the baby so tight, and lifted her up a bit so that he could see her. And then he was back with us! It was wonderful, and a bit surreal. Like it couldn’t really be happening, or maybe it was happening to someone else- like I was watching military reunion video on YouTube or something. But it was me, it was us! He was home!
We knew from the beginning that this was only a break in Jason’s deployment- that he would need to complete it a couple months later- but was really did make the most of it. We were able to travel north for Christmas, and Alice was able to meet some new relatives and spend time with everyone on my side of her family. We enjoyed a couple snowstorms and had a good adventure or two. We spent New Year’s traveling back to Virginia, just like we had last year. It is becoming sort of a tradition with us, I think. And then December was gone, and January flew by just as quickly. We moved off the base (for a couple reasons) and into a house not far from the gate. If you’re counting, that makes three moves in just about a year. And when Jason gets back from this second deployment, we will start thinking about where we’ll go next. This life is hectic, but there’s a lot to enjoy in it, as well.
This temporary reprieve has taught me a lot about myself. Having Jason home has meant everything to me. We didn’t need to do anything special, he didn’t need to buy me any expensive presents, we didn’t have to travel anywhere exotic. Just being together was all I wanted. I already have the best symbol of what we are and it’s upstairs right now, taking a nap. Everything else just pales in comparison. What else could I ask for? Well, I suppose I could ask that he stay home, but that’s pretty darn remote. We have so few days left together, now. It doesn’t seem possible that two months have passed since he came home. I have to hope that the time he’s gone will pass just as quickly, although past experience tells me that’s unlikely. But experience also tells me that the time does pass. At first, it will feel like an unimaginable amount of time until homecoming, a veritable mountain of days that I could never hope to climb. But time will creep, and the days will slough off, one by one. Eventually we will be a quarter of the way done, then at the halfway point, and soon after, we’ll be in the single digits. The joy of Jason’s homecoming was an experience worth waiting for the first time, and I’m sure the second time around will be no different. So we’ll have our dark days, and then wait for the sunshine. It won’t be long. Even though he hasn’t left just yet, in my heart I am already counting the days until he’s home, back where he belongs, with us again.