+Saturday, March 18, 2006+
I'm so excited I think I might throw up. I was surprised that I was able to fall asleep at all, but nonetheless, I was up bright and early (5:40 a.m.) and ready to go. I feel like a kid who knows they're going to Disneyworld today. Except for the whole nauseau thing...I don't ever recall experiencing the incredible need to vomit when going to Disneyworld as a kid. It's times like these I wish I knew some yoga moves, so I've been making up my own, mostly just to remind myself to breathe so I don't pass out. LOL.

With that said, I want to reminisce on the past 14 months, 1 week, and 6 days of my life because it's still so unbelievable to me that I've made it, that in just a few hours I will be reunited with Matt and this will officially be over. Our deployment was all a series of milestones; I remember so vividly the day Matt left - that we had to be at the base at 3 in the morning only to sit around for 2 hours waiting for a bus. We hardly slept the night before he left and we spent our last night together in a hotel room to escape The Roommate. I think we slept a total of about 2 hours only because it became mentally and physically impossible to stay awake another minute. I still remember everything I did after I watched the bus take Matt away from me - it wasn't much and involved a lot of crying. Then came the opportunity to visit Matt in Ft. Sill. And another goodbye. Then came Matt's leave. And another goodbye. I was overjoyed when August rolled around because it meant the wedding was a year away. Then school started again and I relished in the ability to stay MORE busy. I remember when the countdown rolled down to 99 days - double digits! It'll be strange to have my cell phone surgically removed from my side. I can't remember a single moment in the last 430+ days that I haven't had it with me - waking up at all hours of the morning to answer Matt's calls, jumping out of the shower with shampoo or conditioner in my hair to answer Matt's calls, pissing people off in the movie theatre as I pushed my way down aisles to get outside to answer Matt's calls, leaving hands unattended at the black jack table to answer Matt's calls. I remember the first time one of our calls got disconnected and how devastated I was. I remember the first time we had a "deployment fight" and how upset I was because the miles that separated us left me completely helpless to remedy the situation. I remember the first time I missed a call from Matt and it made waiting for the next time he'd call that much worse. I remember my birthday without Matt, Matt's birthday without Matt, a lonesome Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, two Valentine's days without a Valentine close by (let alone on the same side of the world), and anticipation - anticipation of EVERYTHING.

But I also have an enormous amount of good I'm taking away from this deployment. I have found an independence and strength within me I never knew I possessed. A subject often approached by those just ending a deployment is that of whether or not it was "worth it" - if I could go back in time and have Matt not be deployed, would I? I don't know. It's tough to say what course the year would've taken if Matt and I hadn't had to overcome this obstacle. The moments of worry and stress I could do without, but because of that, I have nerves of steel. I am thankful to the deployment for what it's taught me about myself, for the patience and understanding it's given me, and for what it's done for mine and Matt's relationship. At the beginning of a deployment the thought of spending such an extended amount of time away from the most important person in your life is so horrifying, it's tough to immediately identify what good will come of it. Looking back over the past year of our lives, I think it's been a blessing in disguise. It gave me the opportunity to prove to Matt how much I truly do love him. It's helped our relationship to flourish and grow in a way it wouldn't have if we'd spent every day of the last year together. It taught us to be independent and that we can always rely on each other "for better, for worse." Before leaving Afghanistan, Matt wrote me an email thanking me for being there for him and for the strength I maintained throughout the deployment because it was "completely and solely the reason he maintained his sanity being so far away." I wrote back: "Even from the other side of the world, you were my biggest support during this deployment...the strength that carried me through the deployment came from your consistent love for me and mine for you...You are completely and solely the biggest reason I have kept my sanity with you this far away. You lean on me and I'll lean on you and we'll hold each other up - what would we do without each other??" We have both grown and matured so much because of the deployment, and for that, I am grateful.

The deployment has also introduced into my life an extraordinary group of women whom I love dearly and consider the most excellent of friends despite never having met them in person. They were always there to offer an understanding ear or a sympathetic shoulder, and I couldn't imagine making it through the deployment without their help and support. Christy, Karen, Jennifer, Britt, Lauren, Beth, Kim, and even those girls who I knew only through reading their blogs - you guys are amazing! I know no one else in the world as strong and supportive as you - you are all rocks and the highest caliber of military wives; you have successfully held the world on your shoulders and made it look easy. Thank you girls - it would've been so much more difficult without all of you. And I want to also thank those who've lost their loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan; I pray for their soldiers and that God will always watch over them for they have made the most enormous and selfless sacrifice.

At the beginning and during the deployment, it seemed to drag on, to take it's precious time, but now I look back over the length of the Matt's time away and find myself wondering where the time went. It seems to have just slipped away, and I think I must've imagined those slow days and tedious weeks. Shortly I will be heading up to the base to live out the moment I've often played over and over again in my mind. It's finally here!! I'm going to be disappearing for a little while into euphoria with my fiance, but I promise to update in a week or two with pictures and all about the ceremony. Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming!!

wishing matt was here @ 6:01 AM+

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