Deployment Homecoming: Pandemic Edition

My husband is finally home y’all! And it was absolutely nothing like the way I pictured it when he left. Like. At all.

That’s 2020 in a nutshell though isn’t it?

People who say that the last month of deployment is the longest are clearly not moving cross country with kids and pets, setting up a new house, and prepping for a two week long quarantine that starts as soon as their husband gets home. Because I felt like I was trying to shove a week worth of stuff into every day. There was not enough time at all!

Shockingly, Charlie got home almost exactly when he was expected to. Which is basically a miracle by Army standards.

There was no homecoming ceremony. I went to his battalion parking lot at 3 am and waited in my car (with a Whataburger breakfast sandwich because he was jet lagged and hungry) then went home.

When I got to the parking lot, someone got my name so they could tell my husband where I was parked. They had us parked in every other space and we were instructed to stay in our cars and if we absolutely had to get out of our cars we had to wear a mask. A precious email had said we needed to wear a mask even in our cars which seemed a little crazy to me, so I was thankful that wasn’t actually the case.

I think about 50% of the people there actually followed the not getting out of your car rule…and there was an entire family wandering around with their dog and no masks on anyone.

By the time Charlie got his bags there was pretty much nobody left in the parking lot…but being a rule follower our first hug was through my open car window. He had to go back and get another bag and, by the time he got back, there was nobody within 50 ft of my car so I was a rebel and got out of my car for a real hug.

Fortunately my mom was still at my house so I didn’t have to wake the kids up to sit in a parking lot for a couple hours. When we got home, mom was holding Eloise on the couch so we handed her off to Charlie.

We waited for Oliver to make up on his own and surprised him in the morning. I didn’t get any pictures because he went running all around the house.

Since we didn’t have a photographer, my mom took a few pictures for us in our backyard before she went home.

I had also picked up a cake when we were at Costco so we had our own little celebration! (And the cake had candles because Oliver is convinced that cake means birthdays and there MUST be candles…and it’s cute so I’m rolling with it lol)

Not the most exciting homecoming story…but the important thing is that he is home! Oliver is so happy to have daddy home and Eloise is absolutely smitten.

But let’s talk about feelings for a second

Specifically my feelings.

I’ve been struggling with the lack of real “closure.” And I promise I say all this knowing there are way worse problems in the world. But that doesn’t make my feelings less valid. And I would be willing to bet I’m not the only one with these struggles.

In my mind, a homecoming ceremony is a way to close a chapter. It recognizes that you did this really hard thing then says hey let’s celebrate because that’s over and we can move on.

I’m having trouble closing the chapter because in my mind it feels unresolved. It feels like any other time he’s had a long day at work.

There’s also the part of me that is heartbroken that we didn’t get that special moment. That running into each other’s arms and Eloise being awake and dressed up when she meets her dad. Oliver saving a flag and running to his dad for the first time in way too long.

I can’t tell you how many homecoming videos I’ve watched. How many times I was upset that Charlie was missing Eloise’s birth and the first five months of her life. But, in my mind, we were at least going to have a super exciting time when he finally got to meet her.

But that all fell apart.

And it isn’t the end of the world. In the big picture, it’s probably just a minor inconvenience. But right now it’s hard. So I’m working my way through those feelings as best as I can while we also wrestle with the regular reintegration stuff and re-learning how we work as a family.

If you had a homecoming during the pandemic, I would love to know how you are feeling about it!

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