"The Welcome Home Post I Thought Would Never Come"

“After an excruciatingly long six months, my love finally came home from war. Today marks one week since he’s been home and I still find myself waking up in the middle of the night to make sure that he’s still there, that i’m not dreaming.

I hardly slept a wink on Monday night. I could hardly believe that after so long, he was on his way back home to me. Tuesday morning, I bounded out of bed bright and early (alright, like 8am… cut me some slack!) and headed out to breakfast with his family. Mostly, I wanted to try to get some food into my system so that I could maybe avoid throwing up everywhere.

We left for the airport around 11:30am, with four cars in tow. It took FOREVER to get to Philly because old people (sorry pops) were driving and they don’t like to go any faster than 60 miles an hour. When we got to Philly International, we couldn’t find parking anywhere. We seriously drove around for half an hour looking for a spot. We ended up parking in all sorts of illegal ways… handicapped spots, parking spots that weren’t really parking spots… whatever we could get because I needed to GET IN THAT AIRPORT IMMEDIATELY.

So we all get parked, say a quick prayer that we don’t get $300 parking tickets and head inside. There was lots of waiting.

I was FREAKING OUT the entire time, no joke. It might have been worse than the whole deployment. I was shaking. My heart was racing. It was AWFUL (But now that I look back, it was completely awesome). It was also pouring rain that morning, hence the scraggly looking hair (that was perfectly straightened when I left the house) and me NOT wearing my beautiful Anthropologie homecoming dress. I had to improvise morning of and go with jeans and red white and blue tshirts that made me look fat. WHATEVER.).

He was on Flight 701 out of somewhere in Germany. That was all I knew. The time for his flight to land came and went. They never updated the flight board with anything. No “At Gate”, no baggage claim number… NOTHING. We kept watching people walk by, and we were scoping out their baggage tags to see what flight they were on. He was supposed to land at 2pm, it was close to 2:45 when one of my cousins yelled “THAT ONE SAYS 701!!!” I raced to the end of the hallway thingy where we were allowed to wait and then there he was.

I couldn’t believe it. I could see him, but he wasn’t close enough for me to run to. Do you know what it’s like seeing your whole heart, just a few feet away after ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DAYS? AHHHHH! I just yelled “WALK FASTER!!!” He smiled. I melted. Once he crossed that line, I ran.

It was also right about here that I sprained my ankle. Later that night, it was all swollen and purple and gross. Awesome. ANYWAY. I love that you can see him putting down all of his stuff to catch me. For a minute there, I seriously doubted his ability to get everything on the ground fast enough to catch me because I was jumping whether he liked it or not.

Thankfully though, he managed to get it together in time to catch me. Can I just tell you how perfect this moment was? It was better than the day I bought my house, better than the day that I got engaged… it was just the purest, most perfect kind of happy ever. He was just HERE and I was with him and his arms were around me and I just never wanted to let go.

Wait, this was the BEST moment. Who gets to have a second first kiss? Seriously. It all felt new again (and GOD, he is devastatingly handsome, isn’t he?). I was sort of awkward doing all of this with an audience. People were yelling and cheering. I didn’t even realize until after I jumped off of him and looked around. I don’t think there was a person in the huge room not smiling (one lady was full on BAWLING).

See? This is my giddy face. I don’t think I let him get more than a foot away from me the whole day. I don’t think he really minded all that much.

I had goosebumps. Holding his hand, I literally had to catch my breath. I was in complete and total shock walking out of the airport with him. After six long months, we were going HOME. Together. There really is no better feeling in the world.

I had been in contact with his patrol Sgt. all morning long because he was organizing to give us a police escort for the last leg of our drive home. It started out with one police car in front of us, the three family cars, two police cars and an ambulance behind us. As we drove home, it got larger and larger. People met us out on the highway in their cars and started flashing their lights and joined in on the parade. Final count was 3 police cruisers in front and 14 police cruisers and ambulances behind us. That’s 20 vehicles. People were pulling over left and right for us, we went right through red lights, it was a pretty awesome experience. See?

You can sort of see how far back it all goes, but trust me… this does it NO justice. This was right by a stop light where they had traffic blocked off for us to go by. It’s about two minutes from our house. I have a great (and noisy) video of it up on facebook. It’s pretty neat.

We got to our house and Matt’s dad had tears in his eyes. He told me he was just so floored with how much Matt means to the community here that all of these people would take time out of their day to welcome him home in such an amazing way. I just hugged him and told him he had raised an amazing boy. Our street was FILLED with police officers, firefighters, EMTs, Friends, Family, Neighbors… It was really a sight. I have never in my life felt so proud.

And then, after the chaos died down a little? He got to meet his Penny girl for the very first time.

The cute KILLS ME. Seriously. He was so excited to see her. I was excited to have someone else around to poop scoop the backyard and take her out when she wakes up at 6am.

We ended the day with five pizzas and a movie on demand with our families. It was blissful. The rest of the week, we spent relaxing, out processing and getting ready for our completely over the top Welcome Home Party that we had on Saturday. It was ugly. We went through 14 bottles of wine and two four bottle jugs of wine (that’s 22 if you’re counting) for Sangria. We also had a keg and a lot of sweet tea vodka and Malibu Bay Breezes. And Jello shots. Ughhh.

Needless to say, we spent Sunday recovering. And cleaning. Ohhhh the cleaning.

But he’s home, and life is slowly but surely returning to normal. I really couldn’t be happier you guys. Thanks for keeping me sane on this crazy deployment journey.”

CLICK HERE to watch the video of Rachel’s reunion!

Entry by Rachel from ConfessionsOfAJerseyGirl.com

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