I am so incredibly happy for my friends to be home, for my friends' spouses to be home, and for the remainder of my friends to have their spouses home soon. Thank goodness. I am so happy for them. I am so happy for me, too, because that is about 80 less people that I need to worry about their safety. You can at least triple that when you include their families that I also worried about. Thank God this deployment is OVER!!!! For them.
With the highs have come the lows. It is easy to see what others have when I do not, and so difficult to watch it sometimes. I feel like the kid who is watching all of her friends eat ice cream, but she only has 25 cents, so can't get any. And no one else has any more change to spare. I regress in to a little child- they all get theirs, but I don't get mine. That seems truly selfish. But, please know that this is not a feeling that I have outwardly or toward them. It is one that is internal, and one that is eating me inside.
I knew that this part was going to be hard. I knew that I wasn't going to fully understand that this really, truly happened until I got to this point. I knew it was going to be tough, and I knew that I wanted nothing more than for this part to come, for them to be home and safe. I have been counting down the days with every soldier, and every family, since Day 1. About the fifth week of deployment, I marked on my work calendar what "week" we were in. I have been counting down to the time of bliss, even, and maybe especially, after Matt died. Little did I know that the bliss was going to be for All of us, but some of us wouldn't get the full effect.
I have never had a welcome home, someone to come home to kiss me after a long time away. Maybe that means that I don't know what I am missing out on? I have never had him go away and then come back. Maybe that is why I have been able to go to the Welcome Homes and be so incredibly and sincerely happy for those coming home and those receiving their loved ones. I have always been an onlooker for this part. There was no R&R welcome home. The longest that Matt and I were ever apart was for training missions for the Army. After two weeks, his homecoming was plenty spectacular! I can't even imagine what it would have been like after 8 months, or after 1 year.
I really mean I can't imagine that. During deployment, I would have good days and bad days. I would have strong and weak days, as I now call them. One day in particular, I was driving to pay my water bill. It was only about two months before he came home for R&R, and we were anxiously counting down until we got to see each other. I remember thinking about what I was going to wear, how I would get through security to wait for him by the gate, and how he would smell, and how he would look. These all seem like happy thoughts, right? Well, I broke down bawling. I couldn't picture what he would look like. I was so utterly afraid that I would lose him, and that I would not get that very extra special moment. It is weird our little "feelings" that we have. Intuition. Maybe it was me (or God?) protecting myself? I tried to convince myself for several weeks after that that this actually would not happen, and we would have our moment. Intuition.
Now that the soldiers are coming home, everyone is starting to "family up". I love that. I love that they get to spend time together, after a long, hard year. I love that they get to become reacquainted. That they get to smell each other, look in to each other's eyes, hug their children, kiss their spouse, play with their dogs and cats. Hold hands, have dinner, read quietly near each other. I absolutely love that. I am so happy for that.
And then, the madness sets in. I don't get that. I am not by any means mad at the families. No WAY! They have earned their place. They have fought through what many, many people, including Matt, have termed "the worst deployment ever" and deserve every bit of happiness and excitement that is coming their way! I am, however, very upset and angry with God.
Why couldn't God give us our chance? Why didn't we get our chance to kiss at a welcome home, hold hands again, become reacquainted, play with the dog, settle back in?
A wonderful, flowery friend of mine has recently told me that we choose our path before we come to live this life of ours. We choose our own obstacles. We choose the life that we are going to live. We find a path, and, without knowing in earthly measures, we follow it. In life, we are given our strength paths, and our weakness paths. We, namely God, knows our path and that which we must take to accomplish our goals. I also keep hearing "It will all make sense when we get there".
I think that I have figured mine out. Of course, I haven't figured out my life, and I will never stop asking why, I don't think, however, I think I have my strength figured out. My strength is Love. I really, truly believe that. I have so much love to give, and I want to spread it as far as I can. I give it to my family, my friends, my dog, complete strangers even, and most importantly, my husband, here or there. It is always unconditional. And, it seems that I never run out. It is sometime countered by those who that is not their strength, or their path, but it is always there. Until lately. I do have love still, but it has, unfortunately, been vastly overpowered by my grief. I have been standoffish to people that I truly care about, but it is more because of utter exhaustion than a lack of love. And for that, I do apologize sincerely. I don't know right now, how to be "me", and I know, more than anything, that is what some of those closest to me want right now. Unfortunately, I can't offer that at this time. I do know, however, that of me, my Love will return every bit as much as I have had it before, and maybe some more, because I have learned not to take advantage of that very precious gift.
As far as my strongest weakness goes, this situation, my husband dying, has lead me to learn that one as well. This is a journey that is supposed to be very important, but one that we can never quite figure out, until the end of our journey. This, I believe, is my Faith. I have always had Faith that God existed. It would be silly that He didn't. However, I have been careless with my faith. I have questioned it, repeatedly, again and again. Never has it been more clear to me than after I talked with the Chaplain in Dover, the day after receiving Matt home to the States. That conversation, one-sided on my part, with the Chaplain calmly looking at me and raising his hands without a word, granted me the strength and clarity that I needed to get through that day, and many months after. However, I still question it. I still struggle with it. I now know what I believe, and I believe that Jesus has walked amongst us, and that He has died for our sins, but I still question. I question the meaning of Life. I question God's intentions. I question why I am here and Matt is gone. I question why we were brought together to be ripped apart so soon. I will, however, never again question God's wrath. And I have been fighting His wrath, with my angry words to Him. My anger at Him. I also know now, that He is a loving God. If He didn't love me, then I wouldn't have met Matt. I wouldn't have been blessed with my parents, siblings, friends and his family. Thus, my circle of Love is protecting me from my weakness of Faith. And, through Love, I will find Faith.
On a strong day, there is so much Faith that everything will work out according to God's plan, and that to reap the reward, I have to suffer. On a weak day, I think that God knows nothing of what I want or need, and I will fight until I get it. The fighting makes me tired, and angry and draws the circle of pain again.
I miss my husband. I miss our nonexistent welcome home, and our nonexistent reintegration, our nonexistent future. But, today, I have the strength to smile that other families do have their welcome home, their reintegration, and their future.
Thank you for letting me share in it, and Welcome Home.