The days leading up to your final hours are full of emotions and preparation.
A white bus that you know holds your husband and the father of your children.
The buses unload and you see boots.
The glorious and amazing view of hundreds of brown combat boots that just hours earlier, were touching the dirt in Afghanistan but have now returned to US soil.
The DJ informs you that now, if you want your loved one back, you have to make the buses move and the crowd starts to yell, "MOVE THAT BUS." The buses pull away and you are left with the best view ever.
A sea of multicams.
The sea of soldiers start to march forward, closer. So close you can barely stand it. You are so ready to wrap your arms around your loved one that you haven't been able to touch in months.
It's like a tease, really.
After a short speech, they shout that the soldiers are dismissed and it is literally mass chaos. You are frantically trying to find your soldier but it's hard to do when they are all wearing the same thing.
You suddenly hear your father in law shout, "THERE HE IS!"
You don't remember how you to got to him, but as soon as you lock eyes, it's all over.
The sweet feeling of that first embrace can't be compared to anything.
Until you see your kids see their dad for the first time.
I don't think I realized how much the deployment affected all 4 of my kids until I sit here and look at these photos. I am so incredibly proud of my kids, never once did they ever act as if this deployment was bothering them, they were so strong. They knew it was just another speed bump in life. I am amazed and very lucky to have had these 4 kids by my side the past 9 months.
As I had mentioned in previous posts, out of 5 deployments, this was the first time my inlaws had been able to make one of their son's homecomings. This is something that I can never imagine taking from them.
Right before Mat left, his sister had made a pledge of sobriety. The deal was that in order to attend Mat's homecoming, she had to remain sober the entire time. Having there was a huge milestone and meant so much to her brother.
The whole thing goes entirely too fast to soak it all in. Before you know it, you're picking up the bags, loading them in the car and heading home.
But homecoming makes it easy to forget the broken washer and dryer, fence that fell down 10 days before homecoming, the bed bugs. Those memories are quickly erased and replaced with nothing but emotions, happy tears and relief.