Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Uncle Erik is a man"

That is what my three year old had to say about seeing Uncle Erik for the first time in 6 months. I was worried that J. would not remember his uncle so for the last few days I have been constantly telling him about Uncle Erik. I told him Uncle Erik was coming home soon. I told him Uncle Erik would be so happy to see him. I told him Uncle Erik was not going to stay with us but with Oh-cho. On Friday I told J. that tomorrow was a "mommy/daddy" day and he said "no it is an Uncle Erik day".

I can't even describe how exciting it is to see a unit that has been deployed overseas return home. The waiting is no fun at all, especially in the freezing cold, but still knowing they will be home to us in just a short while is overwhelming. I thought that nothing could compare to the last time his unit was deployed. We actually were standing on the runway and saw the plane they were in heading to us. As soon as we saw it people started screaming. It landed on the runway, but too far away, and then taxied to where everyone was. As soon as the doors opened and men (and some women) started streaming off the crowd went wild. I have to admit they all kind of look alike in their fatigues so we screamed "ERIK" as loud as we could until we found him.

This time we were not on the runway but in a gym. Not even at the airport. The unit was going to arrive, then board a bus to come to the place where we were waiting. When we finally got the announcement that they were on the buses and headed our way, everyone headed outside. We stood there for a while, freezing, trying to not step in goose poop, and turning at every loud sound hoping it was the unit.

Finally we heard it, the buses were here. Around the side of the parking lot two blue buses came into view, full of men (and again a few women) in desert fatigues. The crowd started screaming and waving. You couldn't make out faces but could see bodies, heads, and arms. I don't have words to describe the feeling standing there among families who have been separated for months, watching the unit make the last few feet of the journey until they will be reunited. All I can say is before anyone even came off the bus I was crying.

There was a brief unfortunate incident with a "first kiss" that we will not go into but then it was guy after guy coming off the bus closest to us, but no Erik. Once that bus was emptied we all turned to the other bus, still no Erik, finally one of the last men off the bus came around the corner and there he was. "ERIK!" was screamed so he would know where we were (even though he had probably seen us we were within feet of him) and then he was there. Right next to us.

Uncle Erik is a man ... one who has been gone to long. Welcome home.

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