Tag Archives: Deployment

The Final 48

Coming home from a deployment | R.Simple Life

It hit me sometime around lunch on Friday. My husband was on his way home. He wasn’t deployed anymore. He was enroute. He’d be home in mere days. That instant held butterflies which made their way from my stomach to my chest, and then slowly turned to waves of anxiety.

You kind of expect it, but nobody warns you how intense the last two days of a deployment are. There are waves of extreme emotions and you are struggling to ride them gracefully. Moments of pure elation and excitement are shortly followed by moments of anxious waiting, nervously listening for any noise from your phone, looking at the clock. One minute I was dancing around the living room, running from task to task because I was filled with so much happy energy and then I’d find myself standing still, staring at a socket in the wall. I don’t really have a good yardstick to measure it against, but I told my dear friend that I was fairly certain this is what it felt like to be on drugs.

I had a list to keep me busy that weekend. Things like vacuum, clean the oven, file paperwork, work on Harry’s birthday video, grocery shop. About a third of the items on my list were crossed off. I’d get into these frenzies where I’d have to do something, cross something off the list, scrub the bathroom, clean out the refrigerator. And then I’d be mentally drained and need to just sit on the couch with a mindless program and zone out.

I had no appetite. Harry and I ate an embarrassing amount of Greek food takeout and peanut butter & jelly yogurt. I couldn’t think far enough ahead to cook anything in time for dinner. I didn’t want dinner. I drank so much water because my throat was so dry.

But while the emotional turmoil was happening, there was a weird sense of calm underlying everything. One minute I’d be bouncing down the stairs, vacuuming each one, the next I’d be on the couch with Harry and Despicable Me playing in the background, but through it all, I felt oddly calm. Like I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the idea that my husband was coming home. Like it was any other weekend. I saw each emotional swing as an outsider, watching it with fascination. People were asking me if I was excited or nervous or happy or whatever, and though I was all of those, I was also relaxed. It had been almost five months on my own, making a new routine, doing everything by myself. My days were meticulously the same, and these last few days were not much different.

I did find, however, the second it was quiet, that calmness threatened to leave. We listened to a lot of Dean Martin and Imagine Dragons and Jack Johnson. Despicable Me was on in the background, usually with no one watching it. I needed noise to quiet the noise in my brain.

The morning of the homecoming, I woke up excited, but calm. Harry and I went for a run to calm my jitters, but it felt normal. The two of us running through the Mississippi fog. I put him down for a nap and took a shower. All the while, filming our every move like a documentarian. I think I needed to do that. Whether I’ll ever put it together in a homecoming video or not, I don’t know. But I needed to look at the day as an outsider. That was my way of keeping the energy that comes from excitement, nerves, and elation at bay.

We went to the maintenance building after Harry’s nap and I brought my arsenal: small plastic toy animals, snacks, water, a book, my camera, my second lens, my phone, diapers. I didn’t need any of it. Harry was content chasing balloons and crawling up and down the three steps to the stage. Those three steps were just dangerous enough to keep my mind alert, but small enough for me to take everything in and let my emotions roll over me.

We went outside and shortly after, the four planes flew overhead. I felt the tears coming as I pointed out Papa’s plane to Harry. It seemed like an eternity before they landed, rounded the corner, and taxied over to us. Then it was even longer until the people started exiting.

I saw him right away. I recognized his walk before I could see his face. I could tell the moment he spotted us. His walk became one with a purpose. Quicker and straighter. As he got closer, the emotions welled up inside of me and overtook everything else. That first hug, with a running start, was one of the best moments of my life. Maybe even better than our first kiss. It was the crescendo to four and a half long months of waiting. It was perfect.

Coming home from a deployment | R.Simple Life

And then we walked away, holding hands.

xoxo Mallory

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Let’s Talk About Christmas

Shall we?

R.Simple Life | Harry's First Christmas

I know it’s 2014 and we’re three days away from Harry’s birthday, so really, I should be focusing on that, but I can’t let Harry’s first Christmas slip away without acknowledging it on the blog. It just doesn’t feel right. So pull out your jingle bells and sip on that leftover eggnog because we’re jumping into this sleigh ride right now.

As you know, we spent Christmas in Montana at the cabin. It was unbelievably beautiful and man, I missed that mountain air. And the snow. And those Smiths/Shearers. We cut down our own tree on the property, made (and consumed) too many cookies, and played a lot of Scrabble.

Christmas morning came with a frenzy of presents and one stocking (most of which were for Harry) as we all cozied up by the wood stove in our pajamas. Harry sat on Uncle Dylan’s lap, which was his seat of choice for most of the week, and slowly opened each present. His face lit up when he pulled the bag of dates out of his stocking. Santa knew just what would do the trick. Santa also dropped off a dump truck for the little man, which he has played with constantly since the Big Day. It warms my heart to know how well I know my boy, since I was the one to drop the truck hint to Old Saint Nick.

R.Simple Life | Harry's First Christmas

This Christmas was magical. As magical as Christmas always is, multiplied by a little boys smile. At one point during the present opening, Harry walked over to me and planted a big on right on my lips. Christmas cheer times one million.

It was also so special to be with my family. I really miss those guys as I get older. I’ve come to realize they are my best friends and I love that. Being around my family for Christmas for the first time in years was so amazing. It topped the snow covered mountains outside (but just barely… I love those snow covered mountains).

But as magical as this Christmas was, there was a big part of it that was weird. Wrong. Sad. We were missing Papa the whole season. It didn’t feel right without him. This was our first Christmas in 7 years to spend apart and he was missed enormously.

When people thank him for his sacrifice, this is what they are thanking him for. He spent his Christmas, his son’s very first Christmas, in Southwest Asia. FaceTiming in a few times but lacking the cookies and kisses.

Jon will be home soon. We’ll be celebrating Harry’s birthday when he gets home. He’ll be here for my 27th birthday. And we’re going to have a pretty amazing Valentine’s Day to make up for everything he missed. But until then, Harry will be playing with his dump truck and I will be cuddling with my pillow.

I hope you all had a very, merry Christmas!

xoxo Mallory

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Butt Scratches for Duke

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So, those of you who hop over to KIN on the reg know something is up this week. We’re all a bit of a mess at the R.Simple House. For many reasons laid out in this post, we sent Duke to live with Jon’s family in Michigan for the next six months. The fact that it is temporary, and we will get our puppy dog back for Harry’s first birthday is wonderful, but it doesn’t make us miss him any less while he’s gone. We’ve been questioning whether we did the right thing every minute of every day, but ultimately, we knew this was best for Duke. Jon’s family love, love, loves that dog and has a lot more time for him than I will in the coming months. He’ll be spoiled there. Like a six month long summer camp.

But since I have Duke on the mind, I thought it was time for another update on the Duke-Harry situation. Last time we chatted about this, Duke was having a difficult time adjusting to a new baby in the house. He was as sweet as ever with Harry, just a little off in the rest of his world.

I’m very happy (and due to the current situation, a little sad) to report that Harry and Duke are now the best of friends. Harry adores Duke, preferring to spend his mornings climbing all over Duke’s back, petting his head, pulling his ears, and kissing him all over the place. Duke loves the attention, but even more, he loves the food that Harry “shares.” At meal times, you would be hard pressed to find that dog anywhere but under Harry’s high chair. I even caught Harry feeding Duke a bean the other day. Yep. Straight up feeding his bean to Duke.

Duke has calmed down a bit in the aspects of his personality which took a hit when we brought Harry home. He’s back to normal. And man, do we love that little puppy. I’ll be over at KIN today talking about one of my favorite Duke stories (and a good Calvin one too!), so if you miss Duke like I do, pop over there. You’ll get a good chuckle, and a few super cute photos.

And family, please give Duke a kiss for me.

xoxo, Mallory

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