Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Homecoming #3

The third deployment was by far the hardest for me.

As my father still battled cancer, I watched him go from the strongest man I had known, to someone who depended on people for help. Not something that was easy for him. I was glad that I was able to be there though. Gunner left for Iraq in December 2005 and I was 12 weeks pregnant with Junior.

We didn't find out the sex, and trying to have him pin down a name for this baby with him only calling every week or 10 days was next to impossible. And some of the names he suggested, I wondered if he got the baby name books that I sent or if he was creating names out of arabic letters.

My dad passed away when I was about 7 months pregnant, two small kids who were devastated, and my husband halfway around the world. Junior was a bright point though, and he kept me busy, along with my obsession with cloth diapers. I used to dream about them too. My husband thought I was strange? Whatever, like after this many years he is supposed to understand me.

Gunner was set to return in November 2006, but his flight kept getting delayed, and so he finally came back right at the year mark. They were all shooting to make it to December so that they could be tax free for the year. Anything to keep you busy I guess.

This deployment was exceptionally hard with everything that happened, and the things that Gunner saw. I was really nervous about him finally coming home, and how he would react, especially to a son he didn't know. When he used to call, he would tell me that he "loved that little boy even though he didn't know him". It was heartbreaking.

The evening that he was set to arrive, I was so nervous. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was worried. How much had he changed? How would he handle being the dad to 3? (No worries, he turned out okay!) We hung up banners, got everyone dressed, and headed out to the gym.

His flight was supposed to be home at 10ish, and they were running a tight schedule. At least it wasn't too late this time, since Junior was 5 months old and I didn't want to disturb his already screwy schedule.

My main focus was to let the girls see their dad, and then be able to hand him his son. My MIL had other ideas, and held on to him till I decided he needed to nurse through all the excitement. She wanted to give him his son, but after taking care of him for 5 months alone, I wanted to do it. Probably petty, but I had my heart set on it.

I was so busy watching the kids, taking care of Junior, that the guys were showing up before I knew it. We were in the same gym as before, with the same smoke machine, a DJ, Vietnam vets lining the walkway, and tons and tons of people. I probably remember the least about this return because I was soooooo tired and worn down. What I do have handy is pictures. (Click on the picture to enlarge)
(I know I have curly hair, but I never realize just how curly until I see it in pictures.)


cj said...

Now, wait. Is that Em in the leather coat with you? She looks so old!

And it tears at my hear to know Gunner missed the first five months of Juinor's life.

Hey, in case you haven't caught on, I've sorta adopted you guys in a strange sort of way. Hope you don't mind.


Uncle Dan said...

We hadn't seen those pictures before, I just remember the balloon head one.

Time is getting shorter for return #4.

Army Duck said...

Thank you so much for posting these!

It gives me hope when I hear about your homecomings.

I want to write so much more but I can't really explain why your posts mean so much but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it's not your first deployment that these are memories and that you made it through all of those hard times.

It doesn't make me scared of our future like first time homecomings do (it sounds strange I know).

So a million thank you's for sharing your memories with us.