I just finished reading a two-part series that went through 4 generations of women. It started with the great-grandma and ended with her great-granddaughter. The great-grandma immigrated to the states and the rest of the story takes place there. Needless to say the story included at least three wars: WW2, Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Titus has a medal for serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom). If I had known that 3 of the 4 husbands would have gone to war I’m not sure I would have read it. Even now so many years later war stories and movies still bring it all back. July 4th will mark 3 years and 7 months since the day that Titus flew into Oahu, completely safe and sound.
It’s kind of a funny story. I had bought a plane ticket for Nov 5th but a few weeks before Titus’ return date changed to Nov 4th. I will be forever grateful to the man from the airlines that talked me into spending the $150 to change my ticket a measly 24 hours. “Just do it. It’s worth it. You need to be there.” And he was right. Two of Titus’ friends’ wives picked me up from the airport, took me out to eat (Cheeseburger in Paradise) and let me stay the night with them. I’ll admit I might not have told the whole truth when I talked to Titus, but is it a lie if you tell the truth in the end? 😉 Titus’ friends on the plane with him told him they had a surprise waiting for him when they landed. He thought it was a gallon of milk. He’s such a country, dairy farmer boy. 😉
I didn’t sleep well that night. It had been 10 months since I had seen him, about six of those he had been in Afghan. Did we still love each other? Did we still have things in common? Were we the same people? So much had happened in those few months. I had moved back to the states after living in Ecuador for 8 months. My dad almost died. Titus had been in a IED blast that totaled the truck he was driving. He lost a friend, Garcia, the same week Dad got sick. He was in a fire fight. He was drained, emotionally and physically.
Nov 4th was hot. I remember being so warm in the capris and poke a dot shirt I was wearing. We drove to the military hanger. It was everything you’d see in a movie: a band was playing, there were flags every where, some people had made big banners that said things like, “Welcome home Daddy”.
We all watched the sky, waiting for the plane.
A wrong one came first, which made us all mad that they would get our hopes up like that. Someone in the crowd told us that the men are let off the plane alphabetically by last name. I had to wait for P. Sigh. When the plane came there was a line of higher-ups that gave them leis and welcomed them home, then they were left to find their loved ones in the crowd of people waiting.
Titus was one of the first guys off, the whole alphabetically thing was not true. We looked at this picture and we both think the guy at the very very top might be Titus. 😀
I was in the back and my plan was to wait until he saw me. He wasn’t after all expecting to see me. He thought he was going to pick me up later that day at the Honolulu airport. But I was so happy to see him I ran up to him, put a lei around his neck and hugged him like there was no tomorrow. 😀 He had his gun in one hand and his computer case in the other, and he didn’t hug me back. It was like hugging a pine board. After a second he said, “Um, okay?”. Ha ha ha, he didn’t know who it was hugging him. He told me later that he thought I was one of his friend’s wives or something. So I stepped back so he could get a good look at me. Once the shock wore off he said, “You aren’t supposed to be here yet.” Now I had kinda thought it would take him awhile to process everything, so I wasn’t mad that he wasn’t more excited to see me. Men need to think things through for a while sometimes. We stood at the back and watched other people greeting each other. I distinctly remember this big guy with two huge duffel bags walking up to his girl, throwing the bags on the ground, and grabbing her and kissing her like there was no tomorrow. 🙂 It is a good memory, but at the time slightly awkward since Titus and I weren’t kissing each other yet (we waited until our wedding day). Then they all had to leave on a bus to go turn in their guns, more waiting for us. When they came back Titus was mentally ready to see me. And gave me a big happy hug. It was the happiest day of my life. Some women say it’s their wedding day, the day their first baby is born, maybe it’s your 16th birthday and your dad bought you a car, or the day you graduated from college. But for me it is Nov 4th about 9:45 a.m. The day God brought Titus safely home. Thank you Jesus.
A quick note, I did not take any of these pictures. My camera was broken and I didn’t have another one. All the credit goes to Dog Barney Productions. Thank you for being there and taking these pictures! It’s the only picture I have of that week in Hawaii after Titus’ homecoming.
Reading books or watching movies that have war things in them is good for me in a way. Even though I cry through them all (I almost cried writing this post!) it reminds me of how close I came to losing Titus. It reminds me that I need to treat him like a hero every day, because that is what he is to me. It reminds me of the things we went through, to have the very happy life we have now. Just this week he cleaned the very messy house for me, and had flowers delivered just because.
He is so sweet, and I don’t deserve him. I love you honey. Thank you for serving, and thank you for marrying me.