I've not had the chance to share this with you until now. Those of you who have walked this journey with us might appreciate the thoughts I had in the last hour before the reunion.
Many of you know of Sarah whose husband Russ has been deployed about 5 months with the 1st Infantry Division. On Sunday, while awaiting the time for the reunion ceremony to roll around, I sat in my office and wrote down my thoughts. I did so in a note to Sarah, for reasons I explain late in that note.
This was my reflecting just before reuniting with my darling wife.
Sarah -And just a P.S. on this. The "big exhale" came at about 2:35. A large formation of nearly 200 soldiers, all dressed exactly alike, marched into the gym. I didn't see her...I wondered if another formation were coming.
its a handful of minutes after 1:00 pm on Sunday, July 11th. I am sitting in my office in Friedberg trying to immerse myself in something to let the moments tick by. Time is moving slowly right now...you see, my darling wife is sitting in a day-room in some barracks on this post. I can't see her until we have the reunion ceremony at 2:30.
I suppose it is a sign that I've spent a lot of years around the Army that I find it not particularly bothersome that we are literally standing on ceremony by withholding our reunion for another hour and a half.
Now that I know she is safely out of that part of the world, well, all other things seem fairly secondary.
In fact, though, I'm glad there is going to be a brief ceremony. I'm glad that there is going to be a small punctuation mark on the end of this ordeal. I believe that life's notable moments deserve ceremony...and I know in my lifetime I've sometimes been too "busy" or, more likely, distracted to do right by the notable moments.
This is a swing moment for me. By that I mean my reality is swinging from her being gone to her being here. Right now it feels as if neither is entirely accurate. I'm not experiencing a dizzying rush of relief...the big exhale hasn't really happened yet.
These and the moments to come are when I wish I possessed the ability to step out of myself and observe my life as a spectator might. Then I might be able to see every brick in the 427 day road that winds from this day to the day a lifetime ago when we said goodbye.
I might be able to recall everytime I tuned out the rest of the world as I heard a report from the radio or television saying there were US casualties in Baghdad...I might be able to quantify both the accumulated stress and the relief as I learned more and more facts.
I might put into perspective how hugely wonderful were those
occasional and infrequent moments when upon answering my phone I heard her voice saying "Hi Baby" from so very far away...and not the voices of good friends and family calling to check up on me.
I might be able to see how every prayer I've prayed that the Lord would bring her home to me, "safe and whole", has led to this moment...and I might be adequately humbled by His goodness that I'd compose my own Psalm by which to express my unbelievable gratitude.
And I might be able to keep an eye on this blessing...and all the things it means. I would be able to view every moment of our marriage from this point on in terms of the extraordinary gift I've been given in this woman...and never again, not ONCE, become exasperated at some minor offense on her part...for such actions would serve to remind me only that the Lord blessed me with a second chance greater than I everfelt I deserved.
I am happy for these final moments alone...for they allow me to
reflect. In a few minutes I will join some friends who are coming also to welcome Patti home...and I will get caught up as a player in this wonderment...and my brain will fail to record much that I would have hoped to hold on to.
But in these final few moments alone...the last of innumerable moments alone, it occurs to me that these are moments of joyous anticipation. And that is a blessing as well.
I've heard the stories...you have too...of those whose decisions and actions during separation will bring them pain upon reunion. I praise His name that Patti and I have no such barriers impeding our rejoining one anothers' sides.
I didn't handle this separation as well as I wish I had. But the perpetually messy house is now clean...and the added pounds are mostly lost. That which has been under my control is reasonably as it was. And my trustworthiness is intact.
And because of that, I await with joy the opportunity that comes very soon to look directly into her eyes and welcome her back to my arms.
By now, Sarah, you have figured out that I'm using this forum to you as a means to record that which I need to record prior to an event this momentous. I appreciate that indulgence on your part. If I wondered for a moment "why Sarah?", I knew as quickly it is because you would understand. You are on your own journey. Here is a peek at the end.
My best for you and Russ. Will be in touch.
Then - on the back row of the formation, nearly the other end of the gym, believe it or not, I spied that 50,000 watt smile peeking out from under the brim of her Boonie hat.
It was a very, very brief ceremony. And upon the command of "Dismissed", the formation broke into a mass of excited people swimming through the crowd to get that first hug.
She made it across the gym by the time I stepped down from the bleachers. And there she was...brown faced, cute as ever, and - well - here.
The big exhale came...and with it, the tears...the kind of tears that gush and flow...the kind of tears one never apologizes for. The kind of tears about which mothers explain to their children "not all tears mean that you are sad."
And the hug. The kind of hug that clamps down like a bear trap, and would be just as difficult to escape from supposing one were so inclined. Which of course, we weren't.
And all of a sudden we are in the same space and time.