For this week's "Thursday Thoughts" I was planning on jabbering on and on about who knows what...and then Homecoming happened. By 'Homecoming' I mean that the rest of the men and women whom Chet deployed with in January/February arrived home for good last night.
Remember this post when I wrote about Chet leaving? It seems like forever ago. And here I wrote about Chet returning early from deployment for his knee surgery. After Chet's early return home, I was not completely removed from the deployment experience since all of my friends had husbands over there still, but it was obviously much different for me. But I knew how they were feeling, as this was the 6th deployment Chet and I have been through since 2006 -- hopefully I was able to offer the support and encouragement my friends needed, even though my situation was different. Anyway, I found myself feeling quite giddy all day yesterday as everyone awaited the evening arrival of their loved ones.
My friend and next-door-neighbor, Sarah, hung this sign yesterday:
Sarah gave birth to twin daughters six weeks after the Battalion left for deployment (the girls are their first children). I can think of three other people off the top of my head who also had babies during the deployment, and I know there are more (there are approximately 600 men and women per Battalion). Isn't that heart wrenching? I think Sarah and her daughters may be the reason I was so anxious for the Battalion's return because it's hard for me to imagine Sydney and Lorelei being born without Chet there. And twins! Sarah is my hero.
Chet was partly in charge of the logistics of ferrying the returning Seabees from the airport back to the Naval base where the actual 'Homecoming' occurred, so I was privy to the (seemingly constant) changes in the flight arrival time throughout the day. It was a nail-biting experience! Here is the plane, just as it landed around 9:00 p.m.:
Since it was such a late night, I haven't seen many pictures of the reunion on Facebook, but I look forward to the posting of those glorious pictures, which will simultaneously warm and wrench my heart!
At this risk of being a Debbie Downer, I have to add this: as glorious as homecoming is, it's so hard not to (almost immediately) start thinking about...and dreading...the next deployment. You can't help but see it looming in hte distance. Our family was originally supposed to leave Gulfport and move to our next duty station next summer, before the next deployment, but Chet's knee surgery will keep us here through the spring of 2014. Which includes the next deployment, and which will start to feel very real once the holidays are over. Sigh. How Debbie Downer of me, right?
Okay, let's play the GLAD game. I am GLAD that the next deployment is only six months long, instead of 7+ months. I am GLAD that he will (as of now) not be deploying to the Middle East. I am GLAD that I live only six hours away from my family in Texas, and that I have the flexibility to visit them whenever I want during these deployments. There, I feel better.
Also, I fully believe that God is in control, and that Chet's knee surgery and our extension in Gulfport is not accidental, but by design. That alone is enough to be GLAD.