Deployments feel like a long, drawn out exercise in holding your breath. Literally, at times you can feel the tension that comes from this virtual, emotional breath hold. I’m not always conscious of it, but there are times when I’m reminded of how pervasive the feeling is.

For instance, as the deployment begins to draw to a close, as the light at the end of the tunnel becomes less murky, the emotions long held at bay, the exhalation long overdue, threatens to spill over in a bevy of emotions, raw and pure. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or both, but they both feel just right. It’s joy intermingled with sadness and relief and anxiety and bliss. It’s a roller-coaster threatening to stop at the drop of a dime. It’s every moment shared in absentia bubbling to the surface all at once. It’s overwhelming, pure and simple.

It’s those tears long overdue.

I can’t wait to hold Brooks in my arms again. That goes without saying. But more so, I can’t wait to let out the breath that I’ve been holding since I watched him march away from me in formation that cold winter morning earlier this year. That’s long overdue too.