Here’s a photo that the Public Affairs Office photog took when Bella first saw her daddy after the big formation was finally released. The moment was so quick and emotional that I didn’t even notice any cameras around. Thank goodness I’d thought to give my camera to our pal Shawn or else I wouldn’t have had any photos either!
Background: We’d arrived earlier than most folks and found seats in the front row, within direct line of sight of the door that the returning soldiers would enter. Our sign was right in front of Bella and had several photos of Daddy as well as our family name. No “Welcome Home, Daddy” needed since that was the whole premise of the Welcome Home ceremony.
Sorry, didn’t mean to be snarky, but when signage real estate is at a premium and your family name is longer than a normal poster board allows, mama gets creative. So I took a clue from the hired car drivers at airports. On large white cardboard salvaged from a recently purchased queen size blanket package, I cut out large letters from magazines to spell out “Fugazzotto”. You could have seen it from 50 yards away. If Daddy couldn’t see it, someone around him sure could.
Anyway, he saw us right away before he was lost amidst a sea of Army camouflage. So when the huge group of soldiers were released, rather than try to meet him on the gym floor, we stayed put. A couple of seconds passed, or what felt like an eternity, all the while I could hear Bella asking “Where’s Daddy? Where’s Daddy?” looking just slightly in the wrong direction…THERE’S DADDY!
I’d imagined all the wrong reunion scenarios…should we run to meet him? Nope, we would have been run over by the tweens who were sitting behind us, ironically looking for Daddy’s roomie, Mr. Frank. Should I wear a trench coat and lingerie (or nothing?)? Um, no, that would have been hard to explain to Bella. Well, it WAS a little chilly, so the coat would have been ok. tee hee
Should I hire a personal photographer to record our reunion? No, I wasn’t that organized in the end and decided I’d bring my camera to take photos myself. I hoped I could find someone to take a family photo when the moment arrived (thank goodness our pal Shawn was able to be there for camera duty).
Should we wear matching outfits? We did well enough to be in dresses since my normal uniform nowadays is skinny jeans and a jacket or sweater combo. I did see some awfully cute mom-daughter combinations though! and I loved seeing the boys in shirts and ties to see their dads! (If he goes away again, maybe we’ll try matching outfits… but I’m not holding my breath for that day)
Anyway, the photo-op moments passed quickly. The crowds dispersed as families and friends walked away to get bags to waiting vehicles for the ride to rooms and homes. Military deployment reunions, welcome home ceremonies, whatever you call it, are bittersweet. Some folks, those who are single or geographically separated from their families, go home to… what? an empty room? Before I met David, he’d come back to a lonely room countless times as a single soldier. I was determined that he would not have that THIS time.
We’re blessed that we had the opportunity to move to Germany as a family unit. That wasn’t without some personal and professional sacrifice. I chose to retire and be a stay at home mom, THE TOUGHEST JOB I’VE EVER HAD. And that’s after 20 plus years in the Navy. We moved so he could turn around and leave for a year. And Life went on.
Bella grew at least 3 inches and is quite the little lady. The house has more German antique schranks than I ever imagined and is very nearly “there”, wherever “there” is. I’ve discovered that I really can slow down and smell the roses when I let myself.
But sometimes, like now, when I’m the only one awake in the house, I start to think, which is a dangerous thing. Is this likely to be D’s last deployment or will he head back to the Sandbox again one day? Will America ever be truly out of the Sandbox, Central Asia (Afghanistan), Middle East (Iraq, Syria), North Africa…(probably not)? Will our child be proud to know both her parents served in the military, in the Sandbox, supporting missions that sometimes seemed insurmountable, in unstable regions, in a war with unseen enemies. Essentially fighting for people’s lives, some who would stab you in the back let alone spit in your eye as you try to save them. Day in and day out.
Then I blink and breathe a sigh of relief. For now, life is good. Life is grand. Very nearly perfect.
The best feeling in the world is seeing my best friend, husband, lover and baby daddy safe and sound. Out of the Sandbox.
Time to go to bed. There’s always tomorrow to worry about the big picture.