Homecoming

There’s something I’ve been wanting to put out here for quite some time, but just haven’t known how. Still don’t think I’ve found a total solution, but here it is nonetheless.

A couple months back, I traveled to D.C. for work. It was rather unpleasant, involving a 12 hour delay before leaving Detroit, culminating in a late evening flight and a very cranky Supergirl.

As I prepared to board, a co-worker noticed a hearse on the tarmac. Shortly after, we saw a uniformed Marine near our gate. We easily put it together and realized that this was a final homecoming for a soldier.

When I landed in D.C., I walked off the jetway and looked through the window back at the plane. There, waiting on the tarmac for the luggage to be unloaded, was a Marine honor guard. Gathering in the terminal was the family, waiting for their loved one.

I stood there for a moment, wanting to witness the scene and send up a prayer or two, but I quickly realized it needed to be a private moment. Instead, I went to find my ground transportation, quietly sobbing the entire way.

Fast forward to now. While enjoying a leisurely Memorial Day weekend, DD’s sister got word that her brother-in-law, a 20-year-old Marine, had been killed overseas. For now, let’s call him L. While not directly related to L, I’d seen him at family functions and know his sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews — 3 of which DD also plays uncle to.

The last two weekends have been spent in a whirlwind of emotion, combined with a healthy dose of babysitting. It was an interesting experience to watch the family go through a heartache no family should have to undergo.

At the funeral, the priest mentioned that L had written to his family about the deal he’d made with God so that he’d deliver him home safely. The priest made the point — comforting or not — that God did in fact bring L home safe.

I thought of that Marine I traveled to D.C. with and I thought of L. And I thought about this notion of homecoming. I suppose that while it’s not very comforting, it is true if you’re a person of faith. They are home. And they are safe.

I think of that Marine often, and now I’ll think of L as well.

I’ll think of them as I watch DD’s nephews play baseball on a hot Saturday afternoon. I’ll think of them as I leave the house in sandals and a tank top, with no one to judge my wardrobe. I’ll think of them as I sit on my favorite outdoor patio with a cocktail and good friends. And sure, I’ll think of them when I hear the Star Spangled Banner or cast my vote the next time. After all, it’s because of them and so many others that I’m able to do all of that and so much more without fear and with complete and utter abandon.

We all know people are dying halfway around the world, but do we really know? Do we really understand what that means? Even as an Army brat, with a father who served in the first Gulf War, I don’t think I completely understood.

But when I watched that honor guard wait on that tarmac, and I heard the 21 gun salute at L’s funeral, I got it. I was part of their final homecoming and I’m so thankful for what they gave up for me.

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11 Comments

Filed under DD (aka My Man), family values, Hmm, rambling nature

11 responses to “Homecoming

  1. I almost cried reading this.

    I still don’t get it… but reading this gives me a better idea of how to understand it all better.

    I don’t know that we ever get it. What it’s really like. Those people that sign up to serve? They’re the special ones.

  2. This is such a beautiful post. You said it perfectly. We could all take more moments to acknowledge and appreciate the great sacrifice that so many men and women make for us every day ❤

    Every once in awhile, it helps to remember.

  3. Almost made me cry too. That was beautiful. It’s so easy to forget that there are still soldiers over there and there are still people losing their lives. Thanks for the reminder.

    You’re welcome. And hey, I needed it too!

  4. Tears in my eyes reading this one, Supergirl. I am not a military brat and actually have almost no personal connections to the armed forces. Your point of “do we really know” resonates with me, because I really don’t know. Even worse, I really don’t understand why people choose to defend this country. It’s incredibly honorable and deserves much merit, but it’s one of the only lines of work (outside law enforcement) where you do so knowing the high risks of a homecoming such as the ones you’ve described. To your point, we should all be better educated and we all should have a personal stake in what these people choose to do … our freedoms rely on it.

  5. Wow. What a powerful and heartfelt post. I cannot imagine watching that and how you felt seeing it all happen in front of you. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. ria

    beautiful and powerful post.

  7. Part of my husband’s job involves flying injured soldiers and coffins to hospitals and back home. I often wonder how he does it when it could so easily be him. I try not to think about it too much, but this was a lovely tribute to those men and women who gave their lives for you and me and everyone who values rights and freedoms.

  8. This post just gave me chills. Such a sobering reminder of how we must honor those who serve to protect our freedoms and our soil. Thank you for sharing this, for writing such a wonderfully thoughtful and honest reflection.

  9. you’re so right … we really don’t “know.” i have to be honest, i really don’t give it as much thought as i would, were it closer to home for me. i don’t have any real connections with any of this. but i thank you for sharing this story… it really makes you think, and makes me pause to be thankful for all of the amazing armed forces who are protecting our country.

  10. Ohh, I am truly sorry to hear about this. My brother was in Iraq for two years, and this is just a reminder how lucky I am that he returned safely. And of course we all need to be reminded what our soldiers are doing for us every single day.

  11. Pingback: How I spent my summer vacation: Not here, obvi « A Super Girl

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