On Sunday morning we closed an incredibly wild chapter of our lives and said goodbye to Jamie’s third deployment. To say that I’m happy, relieved, and grateful doesn’t touch it!
In some ways it feels like we just said our tearful goodbyes yesterday, but in other ways I’ve felt the weight of every single day that he’s been gone. It’s such a mixed bag of emotions once they’re home and you step back to reflect.
Jamie lucked out and was on his brigade’s first official flight home (out of many) thanks to a commander’s course he has to take here at Fort Riley in a couple of weeks. We originally weren’t expecting him home until mid-July, so I was thrilled to welcome him home a few weeks earlier than expected!
His 10:45 a.m. homecoming ceremony was perfect for the girls and me. Not only did we not have to sit around twiddling our thumbs all day, but this time slot didn’t interrupt any of Hadley’s normal sleeping times. Big deal when your 2.5 year old turns into a total grouch without a nap. 😉
I woke up at 5:30 and knew that it would take every minute of three hours to get the girls and me put together and packed up to head over to the homecoming site on post. I curled my hair and did my makeup between Sadie’s feedings, packed a bag full of snacks and extra outfits during Sadie’s morning nap, and finally threw dresses on all three of us just minutes before we walked out the door. I was giddy with nerves and excitement from the second I opened my eyes. I love homecoming day!
Because Jamie’s homecoming date was moved around several times before it was set in stone, my mother-in-law ended up unexpectedly staying three weeks to give me a hand with the girls. She’d be the first to tell you that she was flat exhausted by the time homecoming rolled around, but she and Hadley had a blast together during her stay. I appreciated her help so much! I was really glad she was able to stay for and experience Jamie’s ceremony.
Love these girls! It’s crazy to me that Hadley will never remember her daddy being gone during this deployment. I’m thankful for that!
We arrived 90 minutes early and snagged a seat on the bleachers that was front and center. The room was air-conditioned (often rare on Army posts!), the Army band entertained with country music, and we had a ball watching Hadley twirl around the gym floor dancing with all the other kids.
Finally at close to 11 a.m. 300 soldiers marched in while the crowd cheered, and we were thrilled to see Jamie front and center of the pack. The speaker thankfully only made a couple of minutes worth of remarks before dismissing the soldiers to their families.
Even though we had seen Jamie six weeks ago for Sadie’s birth, this reunion was still incredibly special and sweet. We knew this time that we got to keep him for good and that another deployment was officially behind us.
When Jamie returned home from his deployments at Fort Campbell we had to wait around for a while after the reunion while he turned in gear and weapons, but this time around we got to leave as soon as we reunited; They’d turned everything in a few hours before the ceremony time. Though the fanfare was much more patriotic and intoxicating at Fort Campbell (nothing beats being in an airplane hangar and watching a massive jet land), the mom in me really appreciated the simplicity and brevity of this ceremony.
Just like in years passed, I snagged this free sign from BuildASign.com. I appreciate that this company offers this opportunity for military families!
Jamie is already back to work today (no rest for the weary), and we’re really looking forward to quickly finding new routines as a family of four and getting back to normal. In fact, as I was typing that the garage door just opened up. I haven’t heard someone else open the garage door in months!
I want to send a big virtual hug and kiss to those who supported us, prayed for us, and helped us in countless ways the last 7.5 months. When Jamie is away, both my family and his family carry a huge load by way of lightening my load as a single mom and homeowner. I can’t express my gratitude enough. To my Army friends and civilian friends who have simply just made my life a lot more bright, thank you and I love you!
To my battle buddies still waiting for your guys to get home, I am counting down every single day until they are ALL back home!