Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Back in the U.S.A.

As of 6 hours ago, Neal and the 352 were on American soil.

Their mission has ended and now all that's left is outprocessing the unit, which equates to standing in long lines to fill out packets of paperwork and receive any last parting words of wisdom that Uncle Sam feels fit to share. It's boring for him and annoying for me...as I would just like him home, please. But we have our own list of tasks to prepare for their arrival. Each one completed in hopes that it will all result in a wild ruckus of jubilation when they pull in.

And I've had the most interesting reaction to this shortened deployment. I cannot stop crying tears of happiness. I can't watch any old episodes of The Unit, listen to any Toby Keith songs, see any photos of Homecomings (much less watch Homecoming), or hear the American anthem (which they play everyday at 5 PM or Taps, which they play every night at 10 PM)...among the 3732629732 other things that bring tears to my eyes throughout the day. I know that we've done 2 full tours of 13 months each, but the fact that this one will only be about 11 months from start to finish has me leaking joy fluid all day everyday. That has never happened before. It is simply an outpouring of relief...all the way down my face.

The situation in Iraq has been unstable at best. And with the deaths of Osama bin Laden and Gaddhafi while the 352 was deployed, it created an even more dangerous living environment. I've been holding my breath for 11 months, hoping and praying and asking others to do the same. And now 352 boots are on American soil. And in just a little bit, Neal's boots will be next to our front door.

I know that I haven't always blogged as often about this deployment as I had initially planned. There was a lot that, come to find out, I couldn't post. And there was some that just sounded like whiny drivel when it was all typed out. There were many items on my deployment checklist that never got done. There are many more that got added along the way. But when I look back on the year that has passed, I know that I put it to use in the best way I knew how. If I let myself go there, I can be sad for Neal and all of the events he has missed...weddings and births, announcements and travels. He has looked through my pictures and listened to the stories, but in the end this was a year that he missed.

When you celebrate Veteran's Day on Friday, in whatever way you see fit, please remember that the sacrifices that a veteran makes are many. Neal would gladly board a plane, fly across the world, and take up a weapon to defend this country that we love, but he dreads the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and all of life's moments that he misses while he's away. His life has been on pause for 11 months. He couldn't bring a child into this world or congratulate a friend on his wedding day or take his mama to lunch on her birthday. Our lives, like those of so many military families, is segmented into chapters: Neal was home or Neal was at war. And I'm only reminded when I begin by saying, "remember that time we went to Savannah/Kentucky/the gym and..." and he turns to me and says, "I wasn't there. I wasn't at home."

And then there are those who have sacrificed the ability to ever come home and push "play" on their lives. They leave a gaping and raw hole in those who patiently counted down their own wake-ups. Our words and actions will never be enough, but we have to show them that the sacrifice is not forgotten, that they are not forgotten. I will make waffles for Neal next week, knowing that Tami will never again sit down to dinner with Chad or that Army Dad will never again swap Christmas gifts with his brother or the Pucketts will never again call their son. I am relieved. I am grateful. I am a hot and sloppy mess.

I know that many readers came over from Magnolias & Mimosas when we began our 400 wake-ups. I haven't yet decided what I will do or where I will go. I kind of like it over here. And, as long as we are employed by the Army, we will always be on some kind of countdown. So...I may stay. But I also may change my Twitter name back to Bubbles Friday.


  1. I'm just SO freaking excited for you that I feel all giddy and weird! That's bizarre, right? Oh well! I LOVE IT!

  2. Thank God!!!!! What a blessing and I'm so happy for you both!

    Now I gotta blow my nose, 'cause I'm crying too. So been there, done that, and it is a hot & sloppy mess!!! Love your face.

  3. You're not alone. It's taken me two sodden Kleenexes to get thru your post. Wow! I am so happy for you and the entire 352 family. There WILL be champagne this Friday! xoxo

  4. So so so glad they are safely back in the country! I hope the two of you are able to spend ridiculous amount of time celebrating when he gets home!

  5. I am so happy and excited for you! I love it! I am crying right now reading this!

    I remember my husbands homecoming and how overwhelmed with emotions I was, not just happiness, but relief and exhaustion, and PRIDE. I had been strong for so long, not letting this deployment get the best of me, holding it together, but when I saw those white buses rolling up, I came undone. I mean, I lost. My. Shit. He was HOME. For REAL. No more waiting, wondering, worrying, he was here, right now, I didnt have to be strong anymore.

  6. First, a HUGE thank you to Neal. Give him a hug from me. He deserves it. I have nothing but respect for our military.

    Second, YAY!! So happy he's home safe and you are together:)

  7. BUBBLES!!

    I am so happy for you and Neal and that he's back safely! My heart is constantly breaking for those who don't have the same. Glad to see some tears of joy, or joy fluid!

  8. Welcome home Captain Miller!!! I've been waiting for this news and I'm so relieved it's finally here!

    Also...you know I will always full endorse that Twitter name change.

  9. *in tears*

    Welcome Home! And Congratulations! We can all breathe a heavy sigh of relief for you and send up payers of thanks for his safe return! I'm so happy for you, Ally. Have a FANTASTIC weekend! <3

  10. Welcome Home Capt. Miller!!!! Thanks for all of your sacrifices...both of you!

  11. THRILLED that Capt. Miller is back in the USA :) Enjoy his homecoming!!! Love you all!

  12. Wherever you go, you know we will follow. So follow your heart with the blogging and tweeting. In the mean time my heart is singing for joy. Knowing that Neal is home and soon you will be in his arms where you both rightfully belong. I am always thankful for our troops, but this Veteran's day I will extra thankful. God Bless Neal's crew, and every crew both here and away from home and their families. Thank you for writing all this Ally, I don't think enough people get to feel this, see this or hear this first hand. oxoxo LOVE YOU!!! AND WELCOME HOME NEAL!!!!


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