I have decided to dub this first week as "Hell Week" because in my experience the first week is always the hardest. Granted, this is our first deployment, but not our first separation. Not even close. And the first night is always pure torture, then the first week is the hardest. But during that week, you find your "groove" so to speak. You get into a routine and it makes the next weeks easier and easier. This may not be true for everyone, but this is how it has always been for me.
Rewind 1 week and 1 day. Last Thursday my husband returned home. I will never forget Austin's face when he saw his Daddy! I let him out of the stroller and we stood together waiting and watching the doors. I told Austin I had a surprise for him, but that boy has a mind like a steel trap. As soon as we pulled into the airport he said "Yay! Go see Daddy!" He knew exactly where we were. Anyways, so we sat there and waited for what felt like an eternity. I spotted David first. It took Austin a minute of me pointing because there were so many people around, but the second he spotted him, there would have been no stopping him if I had tried! LOL! He was off like a light running across the airport screaming "Daddy Daddy Daddy!!!!!" That is one of those moments in a parents life where the whole world stands still and they can just watch their child experience pure joy! My whole chest tightened up and it was one of the happiest moments in my life to see my amazing little boy light up the way he did! From that moment on, when I saw David again, it was like he never even left. The first week was so long and hard, but the next 3 weeks literally flew by right before my eyes. Like I said, it was just like he never left. He had to work Friday, so we didn't really do much, but Saturday we celebrated our Thanksgiving. I cooked Friday night and most of Saturday and I was really happy with how it turned out! I made my first turkey, which, in my opinion, came out amazing!!! We also had mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, devilled eggs, cheddar biscuits (like the ones at Red Lobster), homemade cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, banana pudding, and lemon meringue pie. Everything made from scratch. Oh and stuffing, but that was not from scratch. It came out of a box, but thanks to an awesome friend we shared Thanksgiving with last year, I had a recipe for stuffing that used boxed stuffing, but added ingredients like apple juice and chunks of apples and cranberries. It was a hit so thanks Grace!!!! I was really happy with how it all came out. But it was DEFINITELY a lot of food! LOL! We ate leftovers the rest of the week David was home, with the exception of last night, when I made a nice romantic dinner for David and I and we ate out one night.
The rest of his time home was pretty uneventful though, barring the disaster with his work, but I will get to that later! Anyways, Sunday we went to the beach for a little while. Then, either Tuesday or Wednesday night (I know, my memory definitely isn't what it used to be!), we went to the mall to get the recordable books from Hallmark. We got one about not being scared of anything at bedtime, then one all about "I love you". The boys LOVE them! Then we had and awesome meal at Bubba Gump's Shrimp! I had steak with loaded potatoes, salad, clam chowder and peel and eat shrimp. David had some sort of fish, and the boys pretty much just wanted stawberries and french fries! LOL! Although Aiden was perfectly happy eating anything I would feed him off of my plate! LOL! David ended up eating most of my steak and shrimp! Ha ha ha! It was a lot of fun.
Now back to the disaster. So David was supposed to leave yesterday, and believe me, I am so glad we got one extra day with him, but I think I aged about 10 years in those 2 days! Wednesday rolled around and he had no orders, no plane tickets, and half the stuff he needed to get done wasn't. So when Thursday came we didn't know if he was leaving or staying. We spent the whole day on the edge of our seat waiting for the phone to ring. And everytime it did we jumped! LOL! Well, his flight was supposed to leave at 5 something I think, and at 3 or so, David finally called in and found out he wasn't leaving. Well, we were in the same boat today. Not sure if his orders would come through and he would leave today or if they wouldn't and he would get to be here for the weekend. It was a very stressful time waiting to find out. But finally, his orders did come through. And boy was it a mess! He finally found out in the afternoon, then he had to final outprocess from the base at 3, which meant we didn't pick up his weapon until 4. Oh and did I mention his flight was scheduled to leave at 6? So we got to the airport at 4:30 or so. Had to go through the agriculture check line, so they could scan his bags, then we had to go do the self check in, then we had to stand in another line to turn in his bags. They tell us that he is only authorized 2 bags and his weapon, even though one bag was just gear. He was specifically told 3 bags and his weapon, so they charged him $200 for the 3rd bag because there was no way he could get it down to 2. Then he had to go back to the security people so they could inspect his weapon case. By the time this was all done we did not have time to go to the USO to get me a gate pass. So we stood in the line security and he hugged me and of course, I started bawling on his shoulder. I had been struggling the whole time. I can't explain it, but walking through the airport with him in uniform, everyone pretty much knew what was happening, so there were people pointing at us and giving us the sympathetic look, and I know they were trying to be comforting, but in all honesty, it just made it that much harder. And I finally just started crying. Anyways, one of the security people told us we could go to the USO, but we explained that we did not have time to do that AND get through security. So she said if we got the pass she would let us go through the Gold Lane. Luckily the USO office was directly below security so we went down a floor and we were there! They had us the paper in about 2 minutes. We got back up there, waited in the Gold Lane, then found out that we could not use that paper, we still had to go get a separate gate pass. At this point it was 5:15 and we were cutting it close, so David felt we needed to spend the time that we had together saying our goodbye's rather than running around the airport, then probably running out of time and having to rush to say goodbye in 2 seconds. I, of course, being the stubborn person I am, was not willing to accept that. If there was a chance that I could get that extra time with him, I was going to try. So we argued about it a little bit and I finally told him to give me 10 minutes. Spend the time with the boys and if I did not get the gate pass and my stubbornness caused me to lose that time with him, it was my own damn fault. He reluctantly agreed.
I LITERALLY RAN through the airport. People looked at me like I was crazy, but I didn't care. I was coming up from behind the airline desks, so I didn't even go stand in line. I found an empty counter went straight to it, explained the situation, and she gave me a gate pass! I ran back and made it all in about 5 minutes! So we went through the Gold Lane, went to the gate (which was ridiculously full!) checked David in, then found out the plane was late anyways! It was now not scheduled to leave until 6:35. So we went and grabbed some Burger King. We got back and ate, then waited for them to start boarding. We sat down and he held me, and again, I broke down. We waited until everyone was boarded, then we made our way to the actual gate. We stood there and held eachother for a long time while I bawled like a baby. Then he said goodbye to the boys, which made me cry that much harder. But the absolute worst part was that when he walked away, as he got to the end of the hall and turned around for one last wave and to blow a kiss, Austin tried to get out of the stroller and was begging him for one more hug. I felt my heart rip into little tiny pieces in that moment. It was devastating. But after that we went over to the window and watched the planes, which fascinated him. We waited until the plane took off, then we left. Naturally, since I was such a wreck when we got to the airport I didn't even pay attention to which deck we parked in or what level! So we had to walk around a while to find the van, but luckily I picked the right deck the first time! I just had to walk the floors til I found it.
It's weird to say this but I think this time the transition will be easier than last time. That isn't to say that we will miss him any less, but he was gone for a month and we got into a routine. He was only back for a week, so I already see us settling back into the routine we started when he left the first time. In a weird way, it feels normal that it is just the 3 of us because we got used to it when he left the first time. I don't know if it will be any different for the kids, but for me it is not as hard as last time. The airport was the hardest part. Just letting go and saying goodbye. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it was hard to let him just walk away and get on the plane knowing that he is going to a dangerous place and that if one wrong move is made, that could be the last time I would see him. Like I said, I know that sounds dramatic, and he will probably be just fine, but there are many women that have put their husbands on a plane and expected to see them again in 6 months, and he doesn't come home. I would rather understand that there is a possibility that could happen and be that much more thankful when he comes home safe and sound, then the alternative, where I do not let myself even consider that possibility and it happens and I had not even tried to prepare myself. Granted, no one can really prepare themselves, but at least I can know that I understood the weight of that moment and did not take it for granted.
Well, his first flight landed a while ago, so I am going to go talk to my husband!
Highlight of the Day: It is very hard to think of a highlight on a day like today, but no matter how bad your day is, there is always something good you can pick out of it! So I would have to say the highlight of my day was definitely waking up to the sight of my husbands face one last time! And even if he isn't here now, I am still incredibly lucky to have a husband that I can be so proud of! He is very brave and is making a lot of sacrifices to go defend our country and as much as it hurts to miss him, my heart is full of pride for the man I am lucky enough to call my husband!