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January 21, 2013 / Jess

What I Wish I Had Known About Deployment Homecomings

My soldier came home on Christmas Eve. It was a logistical nightmare and the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received.

I wore a Santa hat. I didn’t need help figuring out that would be the best thing to wear. But there’s a lot of other stuff that would have been helpful to know. Such as ….

1) You’re probably going to get sick just before it happens. The last few weeks of a deployment are particularly stressful. Less contact – even less contact – as they travel and go through out-processing. Nerves. You may not feel excited, but everyone will expect you to. You’ll be stressed arranging logistics. If you finally figured out how to sleep more efficiently (I never did), insomnia will probably flare up again. Your immune system will take a hit and before you know it you’ll get a 101 degree fever just a few days before you see him again and have to pack an inhaler with you to pick him up in an attempt to keep your newly diagnosed severe case of bronchitis under control.

2) If you’re picking up your soldier and traveling somewhere, ask him how many bags he’ll have. I wish I had asked this. I was trying to figure out how to leave enough room in my car and that was a crucial piece of information I was missing. If they’re not going home first or they have to be in the car awhile, pack some civilian clothes for them and toiletries so they can change and get more comfortable ASAP. You’ll be flustered as it is, keeping logistical hardships to a minimum will help.

3) You may be forced into a room and have to wait there FOR MORE THAN AN HOUR knowing your soldier is down the hall. There will be cookies and coffee but they will not let you leave for bathroom breaks. (Side note: Avoid the coffee. You’re about to kiss!) I stopped in the bathroom before I went into the room – but only to check my hair. GO TO THE BATHROOM IF YOU HAVE THE CHANCE. Try not to let your mind wander about how you’re trapped in a small room by people with guns while they effectively hold your loved one hostage. Or are you the hostage?

4) If you ever wondered why homecomings look kind of lame on TV, it’s because there are more rules than you realize. They kind of suck the fun out of it. (See point 3.) Also, they insist you walk and don’t run, and that you don’t yell. Okay then.

5) You may not be excited. That’s okay. You may feel nervous, apprehensive, angry, afraid, totally numb. I felt all those things. The last few weeks I felt really angry at him. I don’t know why. I just did. I was not excited until the moment I saw his face. Don’t listen to people who tell you it’s not normal. Maybe it’s not. But it’s your reality. What’s normal about a deployment anyway? It’s fine to feel how you feel.

6) Bring more tissues than you think you need. I did not cry, but I was sick and then trapped in a room for an hour. I was out of tissues before I saw him. Our first kisses tasted … well, gross.  I distinctly remember him saying “I want to kiss you more but there’s so much snot.” Then I distinctly remember wiping my nose on his shoulder. I suggest you do not this.

7) It may not be as romantic as you think. Especially if you wipe your snot on his shoulder. But it will be great.

We didn’t take a picture. I wish we had. But that was such a flurry of nerves and snot and adrenaline. I feel like our true reunion has come in small moments over the past month.

It’s a process.

I’m glad he’s home.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Jonathan Raab / Jan 21 2013 8:52 pm

    I like this post. A like. But not as much as I like you.

  2. thislife25 / Oct 6 2014 11:14 am

    Just wanted to say thank you!! I found this a few months after my soldier left and now 9 months later he *should* be coming home this week. I really needed to re-read number 5.

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