Thursday, February 12, 2009
455 days (and then some) Complete
at 12:00 AM
The above picture was attached to Soldier's final family and friends email from Iraq. I love the sarcasm.
Today is Soldier's 40th birthday and he is spending it on U.S. soil.
I just took a really long pause after typing that statement. I have been nearly hysterical knowing that this deployment's over. I can't even believe it. I didn't realize that I've been holding my breath for so long now...
It brings me such peace of mind to know that he is free from war now. The feeling reminds me of a moment during his R & R visit when we went cycling:
We had stopped for a bathroom break during our long bike ride with the cycling group. I came out of the bathroom and saw Soldier sitting with the other cyclists. The group we rode with was endlessly fascinated that he was a soldier on leave from Iraq. They asked him a million questions and he asked them about their lives. Many of the cyclists were retirees who bike daily and have goals of thousands of miles per year.
I remember seeing Soldier, talking with them about their miles and miles of cycling throughout their years. I stopped, for a second, and just observed him. He looked so happy in that moment, talking about one of his favorite topics and smiling that gorgeous smile of his. Just thinking of it makes me smile too.
I like knowing that he's happy.
When I think of the next few months of him preparing for his first post-deployment marathon and half-Ironman competition, when I imagine the freedom he will feel upon running or cycling along open American roads, when I think of the comfort he will experience sleeping in his own bed surrounded by silence, when I imagine him going to the grocery store to buy whatever in the world he wants to eat, when I think of how thankful he will be in the middle of the night that he only has to stumble a few feet to the restroom, when I ponder the next few months of a somewhat regular schedule with free time to do as he pleases... I feel such a sense of relief.
I want him to enjoy his freedom. I really do.
To all the families, mil-spouses and girlfriends who's loved ones are home safe, deployed or deploying soon:
I couldn't have done this without you.
I have felt such a sense of support from all of you - relative strangers whose only commonality was that you too love a soldier. Thank you so much for all that you have shared with me. All the ups and downs and tears...
If I can do it, even with the way it ended, you can too. I will always keep you and your soldiers in my prayers. May they come home soon.