On July 4th 2017 I arrived at Resolute Support Headquarters Afghanistan, my final destination on my journey to Afghanistan. As a perfect ending to a year-long journey I arrived at O’Hare airport on July 4th 2018 at two in the morning. My original demobilization orders had me arriving home on July 16th, and since anything can happen when traveling with the military I told everyone at home I would be home on the 16th. In May I found out I could move my dates to the left one week. I wanted to try to be home for Timyra’s birthday so I moved the dates and just told TJ I would most likely be home on July 9th.
When I arrived in Norfolk on June 27th we started to hear we maybe able to get home by the 4th of July. Since I love surprises I took this opportunity to surprise everyone, even TJ. I asked my sister if she could pick me up at the airport, and at this time I thought it would be sometime on the 4th. Well my sister loves surprises as much as I do, so she quickly got her creative mind working and came up with three ways to surprise them. Then she gave me the options and I chose to have her give each of the kids a box filled with the remainder of their Hershey Kisses. When I left I gave each of them a large bucket of Hershey Kisses. Each day they would eat one and when they were gone then I would be home. So on the 4th they thought there were still twelve days left until my return. My sister put twelve kisses in each box then wrote Welcome in one, Home in another, and Mom in the last. After they opened them Timyra read the message and I came downstairs to join them. All of this was a great plan, however the mixture of the Navy and the airlines made this early adventure home a true adventure. Two days before I was coming home, I received a ticket for the evening of the 3rd and I was scheduled to land in Chicago at 8:45 pm. Our intention was still to move forward with the surprise on the 4th and I would spend the night at my sister’s. Then one day before I was expecting to leave my ticket was canceled due to an issue with the Navy’s ticket billing account. When the ticket rebooked instead of a direct flight from Norfolk to Chicago I was moved to a flight that went to Washington DC and landed in Chicago at 11:15 pm. Just to put the icing on this traveling cake all my flights were delayed and I didn’t get to Chicago until 2:00 am on the 4th.
I can’t thank my sister enough for picking me up in the wee hours of the 4th of July and helping me pull off the surprise. TJ was so surprised. I think he was in complete shock. My mom just screamed, “No!” Timyra was happy and just wanted hugs. Timothy cried and Taylyn I think was in as much shock as TJ. Although this time Taylyn knew who was I was unlike when I came home back in February when she thought I was a computer screen. She also asked me after the surprise if I could come home with them. The rest of the day was great. My sister and her husband hosted us for dinner and their front yard in conveniently located to view a spectacular fireworks show. I can’t remember the last time I watched a real fireworks show and not one put on by my husband and the neighbors. This was the best way to end one of the best days of my life.
The transition home has been slow and I am asking for grace and patience from everyone. I need you to remember I was gone a year and a lot has changed in that year without me. I am mourning so many things and I need the time to get there. While I was gone the reality of what I missed was lost. Now that I’m home I see those things and I need time to mourn that loss and figure out where I fit again. For a year all I did was take care of myself and I have to reintegrate myself into a world with other people. There are so many things that are breaking my heart and I have to get through them and I need patience from all. It hurts when every time I leave Taylyn asks me if I’m going to come back. It’s painful when someone asks me who are Timothy and Timyra’s music teachers and I have to say I was gone a year and have no idea. I don’t even know what to tell people to buy Timyra for her birthday. There are so many other moments that hit hard each day and the tears are always close.
I’m not writing this asking for simpathy, this is just a process I know you will not understand. I am writing to let you know that I am asking you not to be offended or hurt if it takes me time to get back to the way things were. And honestly I’ve changed and it may not be exactly the same, but it will be close. Everything is just raw right now and I have some healing, changing, mourning, and resting to do.
Please continue to reach out. I sincerely appreciate it. But I’m asking that if I don’t get back to you right away know I love the gesture and I will get to you in my time. I have not even been home a week and the adrenaline is still pumping, but as that fades I will need to know where I fit in this crazy and amazing life at home. I want to see all of you and give you hugs and I promise I will. Just let me do it on my time!