On Coming Home

I have neglected this blog more than I would’ve liked. I see that my last post was March 22nd, when The Warrior was still in the thick of deployment. But as I write this, he is safely back, visiting his family, enjoying life back in America…home. After several weeks, I am finally starting to shed my deployment habits – just a little bit. I have been able to walk away from my desk without iPhone in hand, and I don’t feel as anxious when I open my homepage (Fox News) – though I still scan the page for Afghanistan news. But it is extremely comforting to know that he is merely two hours away by plane, and it makes me smile to see his mom and brother posting pictures of him on Facebook. The Warrior looks content, relaxed, smiling….home.

It was a tough deployment, although I cannot speak on The Warrior’s behalf. I know that “tough” does not even begin to explain it, so since my words are incredibly inadequate I will only attempt to explain feelings from my end. He had some near-death experiences and I know they were times that he could have been taken away from us…easily. His first weekend visiting my family and me, we all went to Mass and after receiving Holy Communion, the choir began singing “Be Not Afraid.” I would not have admitted this at the time, but as I was listening to those words and glancing at The Warrior kneeling next to me, I was filled with incredible thankfulness and relief…and emotion. I caught a tear escaping from my eye and thought, “Oh crap he can’t see me crying!” so I was discreet about it…but I knew that had things turned out differently, he would not have been kneeling there next to me. To top it all off, that is one of his favorite songs and the words apply directly to deployment…how ironic that the choir would sing it his first weekend here.

Sometimes I reflect back on the course of deployment. I know I could’ve done better, I could’ve been stronger, I could’ve been smarter. I’m sure that at times, I said the wrong things over the phone or wrote the wrong things in letters, or stayed silent when I should’ve spoken, or asked stupid questions, or acted in ways that were annoying or insensitive. I’ve even thought that maybe I shouldn’t keep this blog, that I should keep my thoughts to myself, because after all, I was back home safe the entire time. It doesn’t take a hero to stay home – but it DOES take a hero to go over there, to face death every single day, to be in danger 24/7.

One of the worst feelings I experienced over the course of deployment, and on occasion during reintegration, was/is helplessness. He’s been to hell and back, yet I don’t have a clue what that feels like. I’m just a civilian. I don’t, and I can’t, KNOW. What good can I do if I can’t understand, if I can’t “get it”? When he tells me stories about Afghanistan (which I will never tire of hearing), my lame responses consist of, “Yeah…mmm-hmm….okay…wow.” What else can I say? I know I shouldn’t ask questions and just need to let him talk, listening with attentive ears and a loving, non-judgmental heart. But it still feels inadequate.

This is too much about me. I feel like I should writing more about him…yet I can’t explain his side of the story, as much as I want people to know his story. He is the hero, he is MY hero! I am so very proud of him and what he does. But it would be doing his sacrifices injustice to try explaining them. The only thing that any of us can do is to appreciate him, to thank him, and to listen when he tells his stories. We have to remember that things are different upon coming home, that both parties have changed, and that we just have to be patient with whatever difficulties arise. But there is still much love to be had. He is still my Warrior! He is still him, and I appreciate and love him more now than before he left. I treasure his smile and love even more…it is fabulous to just be with him in person. The little things mean a huge deal, more than ever before.

This was the first deployment, and it won’t be the last. We shall see what cards his authorities deal to him next. I also know that the future is not guaranteed to be easy…actually, it is guaranteed to be difficult, compliments of the Army. The next deployment could be several times worse than this first one. You never know what the future holds, but I’m ready to face it. I’ve never been scared of the military life – I look forward to life never being boring.

But most of all, I look forward to spending the rest of it with my hero. :)

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”
-John 14:27

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