Wednesday, July 14, 2004


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 -

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 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 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.

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.

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.

And blessed.

Superb succinct piece that discusses the media with attitude problems we've discussed here on numerous occasions.

Go read it all
Another the-war-is-lost report was a front-page lead on July 6: "U.S. Response to Insurgency Called a Failure." It said "some top Bush administration officials" were criticizing the Pentagon for "failing to develop a coherent, winning strategy against the insurgency." But the alleged "top Bush administration officials" were AWOL in the Times, just like the absent "U.S. commanders." Kaus wrote: "Again, there are no quotes -- even blind quotes, even blind paraphrased opinions -- from 'top Bush administration officials' backing up the story's dramatic initial assertion."

The LA Times' negativity about Iraq seems to leak out fairly frequently. A June 29 report depicted the new prime minister, Ayad Allawi, as obscure and unpopular: "little-known to most Iraqis after spending more than three decades in exile ... Many Iraqis have questioned the interim government's legitimacy."

But four days earlier, The Washington Post reported that a large majority of Iraqis knew very well who Allawi was and backed him with confidence. Citing a survey commissioned by U.S. officials in Iraq and conducted by an independent pollster, the Post said 70 percent of Iraqis were familiar with their new leaders and 73 percent approved of Allawi to head the new government. Allawi had been appearing in the Iraqi media frequently, visiting sites and generating optimism. The poll was not reported in the Los Angeles Times, possibly because the poll was positive about the war and the Times is not.
(Special thanks to John for this story...he knew I'd love it!)

Patti is in her second of seven days of mandatory briefings, medical evaluations, paperwork catchup and such.

Today her briefings include discussions of the effects of separation and reunion on soldiers and their families - and the common issues associated with reunions.

Tongue in cheek I told her the Army was sending her to class today to remind her not to beat her husband.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


I am so tickled at the response to the call for pictures for the welcome home project.

You can see the finished project here (I'm linking it so it doesn't slow down the loading of the basic website).

By the way, Patti just came in the room...and said to tell you that of all the surprises and gifts she received upon her return (and there were MANY!)...the Faces Project is her favorite.

Bless you for participating.


Folks, thank you so much for the lovely outpouring of joy you have sent to us via the comments and the emails. Your goodness to us is astonishing.

Here is a pic from Sunday's reunion at the gym on Ray Barracks...

We are in front of a banner welcoming home the Gators...the company she commanded for the first 10 months of her 14 months in Iraq. In case it is too dark to read the banner says: "Gators: America called...said to tell you "Thanks".

As she looked at the words you have written, Patti's eyes misted over. See...she is very proud of what they accomplished...she just didn't know until now just how much you are too.

Monday, July 12, 2004

AFTER 427 days...she's HOME!!!

Pictures and stories to follow gang...but today my real life beats the hell out of any online life!!