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March 1, 2009 was a day that will forever be burned into my memory.
Not in the bad way; more like one of the best days of my entire life.
March 1st was the day that I waited in an airplane hanger for my husband Matt, a US Marine, to return from his second tour of duty to Iraq. I waited for him, watched the buses pull around, and stood with butterflies crashing in my stomach as he stepped off the bus and walked toward me.
7 long months of waiting evaporated as I got my long awaited first hug and kiss…
Now, a full year later, it is hard to believe that it’s been a year. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was doing my hair, putting on my makeup, and trying to stay busy for those last few hours before we went to wait.
It was a day I’ll NEVER forget. It was, aside from our wedding day, one of my favorite days of my life.
Several months before Homecoming [3/1/09], I made this sign on buildasign.com. At the time, Matt was a Corporal [Cpl]. I didn’t know that he’d be promoted to Sergeant [Sgt] before coming home. I had to use my extreme craftiness to correct my mistake. [Note – my extreme craftiness consisted of a piece of paper, permanent marker, a ziploc bag to keep it waterproof, and tape. Reallllly technical!]
All of us wives had spent days, weeks, even months daydreaming about this day. We’d planned our outfits, talked about what it would be like until we couldn’t talk anymore, and we tried to control the butterflies in our stomachs. I couldn’t wait to see all the kids reunited with their daddies. There were four new babies in my circle of wife-friends who would be meeting their daddies for the first time ever, that day.
These girls both [above and below] had new babies who would meet their daddies for the first time. I was about over the edge, just thinking about it. Imagine what it would have been like if I’d had a baby there too!
This lovely girl below is Jenn Jackson. She volunteered to come and sit with me, to keep me company, and to bring her husband along to video tape the whole thing. Jenn took the majority of the photos below. [Jenn, THANK YOU for these photos. They are precious keepsakes that I absolutely cherish.]
Then, the buses began to come. The Marines weren’t able to fly directly to base because of some maintenance on the flight line. Instead, they flew into Hickam Air Force base and then took 4 or 5 buses to base.
Seeing the buses pull around the hangers triggered the tears.
The Marines started to file off the bus. I had been texting Matt on his drive from the Air Force base to our base, so I knew he wasn’t on the first bus. I waited and watched as the Marines filed off and were reunited with those waiting for them.
Andrew getting to see his son, Malin, for the first time ever, in real life. He was part of his birth, via the amazing technology of webcams, but this was the first time Andrew got to hold his son. I cried out of joy for Andrew, Kaylee, and for little Malin.
I can’t believe it has really been an entire year.
In the time since that lovely Homecoming Day, Matt and I got to live together for the first time, after 15 months of marriage, and we got to spend 8 amazing months exploring Oahu together. We spent a fantastic fall traveling the country, and we moved into our first civilian apartment in January.
Life has been good to us, even through all of the trials, separations, loneliness and sadness. We are together now, and we have the sweet memories of that beautiful Homecoming Day tucked into our hearts.
God, thank you for walking along that path with Matt and I, through all of those tough times. It was worth it in the end.
It was quite a day.
On the 1 year anniversary of that day, I’m so glad you’re sitting next to me in our own home, Matt.
I love you.
P.S. Matt’s battalion, 1/3, is in Afghanistan right now. Matt’s 4 years were up, so he didn’t deploy with them. However, there are a lot of the guys Matt served with and led, who are fighting there right now. Keep them in your hearts and prayers. They deployed in Aug ’08-Mar ’09, and then deployed again in Nov ’09-Summer ’10. With only 8 months in between deployments, they’ve missed out on a lot of holiday memories, family memories, and happenings in the world.
Until they all come home.
Enjoy the ride,