When Jeremy Came Home, Part 3

You could feel the excitement in the gym. It felt a little like electricity pulsing through everyone. The soldiers that were in the room to help out/receive the guys coming home started moving quickly and whispering to each other. The Army Band began to warm up and you could just tell that the guys were there.

The Army Band began to play a few songs. This was my cue that it was about to happen! My girlfriends who had already experienced this told me that when the Army Band begins to play, you’ll know it’s starting.

After the Army Band played a few songs, things got kind of blurry for me. I know that a guy got up with his guitar and started singing a song, I’m Free Because Of You (which I can’t find on You Tube). I was straining to hear the lyrics, but the feedback on the mics was so loud that I couldn’t hear what they were. All the sudden, I noticed that the curtain was rising. I am pretty sure at that point I just started to scream. You’ll hear it on the video-along with everyone else who finally realized the curtain that separated the room was going up.

The song finished, the curtain was all the way up, and there they were. Our guys. Home. Safe. For us.

The National Anthem was played, I cried and cried and cried. I couldn’t see Jeremy but I knew it wouldn’t be long. A Colonel got up and gave a short address and then, he dismissed the men to their families. I ran to Jeremy and found him quickly. It was a short jump into his arms. WHEW! We said our hello’s and hugged and hugged and hugged. Chase knew Jeremy instantly and went to him without any hesitation. Thank you Skype! Cooper was a barnacle. He was practically his own velcro patch on Jeremy’s uniform!

Afterwards, we went over to say hello to our small group and give hugs to all around. It was wonderful to have them there with us!

When we left the gym, it wasn’t quite 7 am yet. The sun was up, the birds were singing and the day seemed long already!

Jeremy with all his bags...and Cooper
We kissed a bit
We smiled a lot

After all the festivities, we went out to breakfast…well, after we waited for the restaurant to open anyway. It was a glorious day.

Having him home has been, well, normal. It’s so nice to just be normal. To just be together. Life never stopped for us and our circumstances; it doesn’t work that way. But we enjoyed getting caught up in this moment.  This moment was a beautiful thing.

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….