South America – Day 159

Derick gave me a definite homecoming date last night.  (I use the term “definite” loosely.)  I’m so excited that there is an end in sight!  The kids and I miss him so much!  He should be home the first part of March, but I don’t know if I should post on the internet what the exact date is, so maybe I’ll just keep that to myself for a while longer until I hear from Derick that he is back in the States. 

I witnessed my first homecoming of troops last night at the Peoria airport. 

“Fourteen local Marines are back home with their families. The men arrived in Peoria Wednesday night after serving six months overseas. The Marines are the final group from Engineer Company “C” to return from Iraq, where they specialized in motor transport and heavy equipment.” (WMBD ch. 31 news) 

It was so exciting!  The room was charged!  It was contageous!  As soon as I walked in the room I could feel the excitement over loved ones coming home!  I was there to support my friend, Kim and her kids.  Her husband Jared was in this group of fourteen.  She was so excited!  I can only imagine what she must have been feeling!  She asked me to take some pictures.  As soon as the troops were in sight the room errupted with cheering and shouts of  joy!  Everything happened so fast, I think I only got two pictures, and not very good ones at that.  I tried.  I think I just wasn’t used to her camera.  I should have used my blackberry and then just emailed her the pictures.  I probably would have been able to snap a few more that way.  Oh, well!  She was pretty understanding!  Meg Johnson from WMBD News Channel 31 interviewed her and her 2 kids last night while we waited for the troops to arrive.  Kim told the reporter that she had already told her kids they had better run to their dad or she was gonna run them over to get to him!  (Maybe I should warn my kids ahead of time, too!)  I tried to find the footage of her interview on their website, but all I could find was a tiny little write-up and one picture of someone I don’t know.

Last night made me so excited for Kim and her children, and also for Jared.  How exciting this must be for him!  To be seperated from your family and friends and church and everything familiar for 6 months to a year has to be so incredibly hard.  His were not the only tears I saw last night!  It all made me so anxious for Derick’s return!  Derick told me, last night, that everyone is getting anxious to get home.  I think they are getting tired of being in close quarters with non-family members.  I know I would be! 

The flight into Peoria was a late flight and it arrived later than scheduled so my original plan was to wake up with the kids at 7am this morning.  When I got in the car to go home, the clock on the dash said 11:08.  Well, after I got home, I decided to go ahead and set my alarm for 5am like normal.  I usually hit the snooze until about 5:20.  This morning, however, my bladder decided to wake me up at 4:45.  That is the worst feeling… to wake up before the alarm, but with not enough time to go back to sleep until the alarm sounds.

I think my mind is just racing.  I can’t seem to get it to calm down.  I can’t even describe what I am feeling.  I didn’t realize there would be such a huge welcome for the troops at the airport.  I didn’t realize there would be reporters waiting.  There will be only one other sailor returning with Derick.  They are not in Iraq or Afganistan.  Will the reporters be waiting for them to return?  Kim says they’ll be all over us because I have 4 cute little kids that have been waiting for his return for 6 months.  I think its got my mind going a mile a minute.  It sounds so exciting to have news cameras and reporters covering my husband’s homecoming!  But at the same time, I don’t want to get my hopes up.  I wish I knew the time his flight will arrive.  I wish I knew what to expect. 

For now I can at least say, “Let the Countdown Begin!”  It was months, and now we are down to weeks.  Soon it will be days.  The last few hours and minutes are the hardest to wait.  If you have ever been seperated from your loved one for any reason, you know that to be true!

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