When Jeremy Came Home, Part 2

I went in to wake Cooper up first. It was a little after 4:00 am. I had explained to him what was happening at each step along the process of Jeremy coming home. He knew the night before what would be happening because I had walked through the whole thing with him. Cooper doesn’t do surprises like that very well and he needed to know what the next day would hold for all of us.

When I went into his room and started to gently brush his face and hair with my hands, I said, “Cooper honey, are you ready to get up and get your Daddy?”. Cooper smiled a huge grin, sat up fast as lightening and started clapping his hands! He finally was able to say “YAY!” and he just started laughing and giggling with excitement. He ran to the bathroom and then ran back into his room to get dressed. I could tell he was really tired, but it was as if he was willing his little body to wake up and realize what was ahead. He talked my ear off!

Once Cooper was up, I went and got Chase. I quietly crept into his room, feeling sorry and a little sad to wake up the little guy. He was so sweet and peaceful in his crib. I started to think maybe I should have someone watch him, but then I remembered how crushed everyone would be if Chase wasn’t there. One day of a little less sleep is easy to repair.

I gently woke him up and to my surprise, he was so happy!  He was just as groggy as Cooper, but it was almost as if he knew what was happening too. I asked Chase the same question I asked Cooper, “Are you ready to go get your Daddy?”. He seemed excited and danced around in his crib while Cooper danced around saying “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”.

I started to move as quick as I could at this point. It was quickly approaching 4:30 am and I needed to move if I was going to get to the gym on time. It wasn’t far from our house, but I had no idea how many other people would be heading in that direction. I loaded the kiddos in the car as well as all our stuff.

I need to break here to say that my wonderful small group came over on Friday, July 2 for a fun night of sign making and house decorating. It was such an exciting night!

Crystal and Kim concentrating...
John and Joe and Travis (he's hiding behind John) working on their freehand buffalo drawings
Peter having fun on his sign

The plan was that these crazy people would join me at the gym to welcome Jeremy home! I made extra sure all our signs were in the car and I nervously started my drive to North Fort.

I pulled in right at 4:45 am. Nellie. I was living up to my reputation of being late. I parked and unloaded the kids and the car at some sort of record speed. I still can close my eyes and see the sun just starting to rise above the buildings on post. The sky was on fire with warm orange and red and purple melted in amongst what was left of the night sky and just a few little stars remaining.  Crystal and Travis had just pulled into the gravel lot and I heard Brayden shout “COOOPERRRR!” at the top of his lungs. Peyton’s gentle 2-year old voice quickly gave her own shout out, “Miss Tiffanyyyyyyy!!!!” Crystal came running towards me with a big smile on her face to help me. We hugged each other tightly and I think I may have squealed and jumped up and down a little. Brayden and Cooper excitedly talked about what was about to happen as  we all rushed to get into the gym.

When we got inside, the video feed had been going for what seemed like a long time. I checked my watch and it was 4:50 am. The plane had landed a little early! We found some seats and settled in for what could be a long wait. We eagerly watched the video feed to see if we could see Jeremy.

The gym was full of excited friends and family members. There were all sorts of snacks and drinks there for the taking. (But I had brought my own-I did give the boys breakfast once we got inside.) Fun and upbeat music was playing loudly and as my small group gathered together I felt a rush of emotions. I was pretty surprised to be feeling such a mix of sadness and excitement; sadness over seeing some of the wives in attendance whose husbands had been killed in action and excitement over the joy we were about to experience. It was a hard reality of the morning.

We did eventually see Jeremy getting off the plane when they looped the live video feed for us. It was so crazy to think he was on his way to us right at that moment. I love to hear Jeremy tell about the drive over to Ft. Lewis on the bus from McChord where the plane landed.  He said the bus seemed to hit every. single. red light imaginable and all the soldiers went into a fit of turrets each time they stopped. Red lights can be so cruel, he he he he he he….

When Jeremy Came Home, Part 1

I knew that Jeremy was set to leave the Forward Operating Base he was stationed at in Afghanistan on June 30. It was the start of an 8-day journey through Europe to come home. As soon as I knew he had left the FOB, my heart relaxed. I knew he was on his way home; all I needed to do was keep me and the boys busy with fun things so that our minds and bodies would remain occupied.

Tuesday night, July 6, I was at my summer Bible study and we were praying for one another. I asked for prayer that I’d receive my phone call the next day, July 7. I was so worried that they (the FRG) lost my phone number or that somehow we’d get lost in the shuffle and they would forget to call me or worse, accidentally skip me! Silly stuff? Yeah, totally.

On Wednesday morning around 9:30 am, I got my call! All I remember was some guy saying, “…this is so-and-so from Rear-D calling with some great news for you Ma’am…” Jeremy’s group would be arriving at McChord Air Force Base at 4:50 am. I needed to be at the gym on Ft. Lewis by 4:45 am if I wanted to watch it land and see the guys get off the plane via live streaming video.

My frantic note on the fridge during my special phone call!

That Wednesday was a super fun day. I feel like I remember things in slow motion. I felt a big surge of relief when I hung up the phone. Lucky for me, it was super hot by Washington Standards. 96 degrees.  My friends Shari and Crystal and all our kiddos trekked to the new splash park on post that day. It was so good to be occupied and sharing the excited and special moment with my friends. It was pure joy running through the splash park with the boys and just revel in the happiness I was feeling.

The whole time I was there my heart felt like it might float out of my chest. I wanted to cry and weird as it may sound, I wanted to sleep. But I knew I wouldn’t really be able to sleep if I tried. (I had been having a rough time sleeping since June 30th. For some reason my brain kicked into gear every night at 11:30 pm. Grrrr….)

Actually, I believe I told my friends that I felt a little like I needed to throw up. That sounds random but it is REALLY funny to Jeremy and I….it’s the same thing I said when he asked me to marry him. 😉

The morning went pretty quick.  We did lunch, put the boys down for nap and then I frantically rushed around cleaning the house and baking a carrot cake for him. Everything felt rushed and slow that day somehow!

After the boys were in bed for the night (and a little early at that), I packed snacks and what I call “go bags” so that I wouldn’t have much to do at 3 am the next morning. I set my dress out; white with a blue sweater, red necklace and earrings and I tried to collect myself for sleep. I was actually pretty exhausted.

The dress was ready and waiting, just like me!

I was in bed by 10:00 pm and I actually fell asleep! When the alarm went off at 3 am, I must have jumped 20 feet in the air. I was so tired and yet so excited. I took a shower and got myself ready.

I was almost ready when I looked at the clock and realized it was a little past 4 am already! I freaked out a bit and realized I had better get the boys up quickly. I had already lost the time to give them a good breakfast. (Which ended up being fine because they were too tired and zoned out to eat!)

I went in to Cooper first….to be continued