The USO sponsored a Movie on the Lawn event at the 1st CAV parade field tonight. They were showing The Princess and the Frog and provided enough snacks to keep the kiddos and grown ups alike content and satisfied. I’m a sucker for movies shown on blow up screens in the outdoors. It’s just plain fun.

Although we live on post I don’t find myself driving around the 1st CAV area of the base too often. For me, it’s tough to drive by the company’s motor pool, empty as it is. It’s one of those things that just kind of catch your breath and leave you feeling like you’ve been sucker punched. It’s the reality of the whole thing, I suppose.

It’s the same thing with the 1st CAV parade field. We don’t have many occasions to go out there. In fact, the last time we went was on Veteran’s Day, when we visited the OIF memorial. For me, anyway, that parade field represents homecoming. When I was FRG leader I attended countless homecoming ceremonies there. We’ve welcomed Brooks home twice on that field.

There is something amazingly gripping about a homecoming ceremony. If you haven’t attended one and have the opportunity to do so I’d encourage you to try and make it. The sight of those buses pulling up with all those soldiers inside them, the raw energy of the crowd, the plethora of emotions coursing through everyone, the smiles and tears and pure joy and relief and excitement… I’ve never experienced anything like it.

I’ve always been amazed that as those soldiers march across the field, within yards of their friends and loved ones, that the field isn’t instantly overrun by overexcited, overjoyed, emotionally drained people. The fact that everyone stands patiently and waits for the short speech and go ahead is amazing to me. As soon as those soldiers begin marching down the field my tears just start falling. Without fail. I love homecoming.

So today, as we drove to the parade field, as we exited our car, I couldn’t help but feel a slight pang of regret that our trip there wasn’t going to end with two overstuffed bags in the trunk and two Brooks’s in my car. I miss the feel of my husband’s hand in mine. I’m missing that more than anything lately. The quiet of just being together. I think I’m getting to the point that I’m just exhausted at the missing him. I’m not mad or upset or anything along that line. I’m just tired, you know? I’m tired of the longing for him, of the missing him. of the making it through another day without him.

And regardless of all that, I remain thankful for the experience. As tired as I am today, emotionally if you will, I am grateful that I’m only missing him temporarily. That I’m only longing for something that will shortly come to pass. I’m grateful at the way these deployments have sharpened and perfected our love for each other, strengthened our friendship, our commitment, our patience with each other.

I’m not quite sure if the opportunity will pass that we’ll return to the parade field before Brooks’s homecoming. I’m kind of hoping not, because in a way I’d like to the next drive in to be a pick up.

Life remains sweet, incredibly sweet, regardless of the circumstances. I’m grateful for the lessons gleamed from life each day. I’m hoping I’m learning the full measure.