I wish I could say that the deployment ended for us on December 3, 2006. It didn't. Those who have been to combat or have supported someone who has been to combat know that many times deployment doesn't end at the homecoming ceremony. There was so much that needed to be processed, experiences reflected on and pondered.
But...like so many others...who had time for that? Before our unit even came back we already knew that they would be heading back anywhere from 12-18 months later.
We got 18 months and 7 days...kind of.
During Kevin's "dwell time" he went to school for an entire summer, did two National Training Rotations (Fort Irwin, 30-45 days each), one Joint Readiness Training Rotation and two local field exercises. It was great having him stateside but he wasn't home. And he certainly didn't have time to process his previous deployment. Nor did I really, since I was still doing my best to keep our home running with three active boys.
I did the only thing I knew how. Made myself busy. There were few things I didn't volunteer for. Need an FRG leader, I'm your girl, oh wait PTA, sure sign me up! Army Family Team Building, why not, I'm living the life. Cub Scouts, well my boys go, why not me too! That was how I coped. How did Kevin cope...to be honest I don't think he did. He switched units and helped that unit get prepared to deploy. We went from a Combat unit to a Support unit..a very different mentality. It was an adjustment for both of us.
I know my husband came back from his tour to Iraq different. But I wouldn't expect him to be the same, life experience changes us. We didn't talk much, I tried not to push him. I know he was trying to protect me. He was upset that I knew as much as I did about certain situations. There are many things we didn't talk about at first. I knew things bothered him. To this day, he still has dreams, he doesn't remember them but they scare me at night.
That 18 months is a blur really. I know we visited the memorials of his fallen friends. I thought it would be healing, now I wonder if I pushed too much, too soon.