Today was a good day. This morning, I got the news I've been waiting months for. I wasn't expecting it to come today. And yet, when I got up this morning and checked facebook to see if I had any messages from my husband, what I found was a post on his Brigade's facebook page titled "Redeployment News". To avoid any confusion, "redeployment" means they're coming home. I don't think they could have possibly chosen a more confusing word, but hey, we're talking about the Army here.
My hands were shaking as I clicked on the link to read the message. I wanted so desperately to call my husband so we could read it together, but he wasn't on-line. And I couldn't wait. This was the information I'd been waiting since before my husband even deployed to find out. Due to the nature of his Brigade's mission, there have been a lot of unknowns, the biggest being that when they left for Iraq, no one had any idea when they'd be back. The official orders stated that it was a one year deployment, but there were rumors that they'd be home after six months, and rumors that they'd leave Iraq after six months and go somewhere else, and then, of course, rumors that they would be in Iraq for the entire 365 days, if not longer.
I never knew what to believe, so I didn't believe anything. Whenever my husband told me about something he'd heard, or another wife called me all excited because she'd heard from someone else's wife that they'd be home by a certain date, I tried not to put too much faith in it. I wasn't going to believe anything until I heard the official word.
And this was it. The "official word". Because the whole OPSEC thing still confuses me as far as what is and is not okay to talk about, I won't discuss the actual dates. But the date isn't the important part anyway. It's the knowing that matters the most. There is finally, for the very first time, a light at the end of this tunnel. And here's the thing about that: When you can't see the light at the end, it doesn't feel like a tunnel at all. It feels like a deep, dark, desolate hole in the middle of an abandoned field, one you fell into by accident on your way to another place entirely. And no matter how many times you scream for help, nobody hears you.
Now that I can see that light at the end, the one that is actually a little bit closer than I expected it to be, I can look back and see that I have, in fact, been traveling through a tunnel the entire time. I was never trapped, going nowhere, with no one around for miles. I've been moving forward all along. There have been twists and turns and ups and downs and more than a few bumps along the way, and the most treacherous part of the trip is still ahead, but that light at the end makes it all so much easier to bare now.
And I haven't been alone on this journey. My husband has been waiting for me all along, the source of the light at the end, and my family and friends, although they couldn't come with me, have been supporting me from the sidelines the entire time. And with me inside the tunnel has been a group of some of the strongest women I know. We were strangers when we started our trek together almost five long months ago. Maybe it was the darkness, the uncertainty and the despair that prevented me from truly feeling their presence at times, but today, when that light finally became visible, when we got that message we've all been waiting months for, when the first thing I did, since I couldn't call my husband, was make sure they'd all seen the news as well, because I knew they were the only other people on the planet who would genuinely be as happy about it as I was, I realized that we'd been on this journey together all along.
Although we're scattered across the country and many of us have yet to meet face to face, we're a family. A strange sort of sisterhood with the cruelest initiation imaginable, sending our husbands off to war together. Even when we didn't realize it, we cried together, we worried together, we grieved together. And now comes the fun part. We get to be happy and excited together. We get to plan together and wait together. And we get to slowly migrating back to the place where we will all be reunited with our husbands and each other in just a few short months.
Since my husband left for Iraq 129 days ago, there have been lots of bad days. Sad days, mad days, lonely days, and day after day of despair. But today....today was a good day.