+Thursday, March 02, 2006+
All day yesterday, I could not stop grinning. March. For 13 months I have waited for it to be March 2006, and it seemed reason for celebration when the date finally switched over to 3/1/06. On my desk calendar, March is already greasy with finger prints and pen marks from my constant wishing and hoping, from turning to March just to make sure the month still existed, to daze dreamily in the middle of the month and think to myself, "If only..." Tearing off the page for February was almost like one of those defining moments in my life - it gave me my second wind, I'm excited again. Laugh-out-loud-at-nothing excited. Cannot-sit-still excited. It'll forever be an inexplicable anomaly how after surviving over 400 days, 13 days can seem like an eternity.

By this time next week, Matt should be back on U.S. soil. I feel like kissing the ground for him. I know once he's back, I'll laugh at my impatient behavior, comment that it went by faster than I thought it would; the fact that this weekend and next are my last weekends alone is scary and exhilirating all at the same time. "Two weeks" rolls off the tongue rather nicely - it comes out like a sigh of relief, rather than a cry of agony, which is a lot what "14 months" sounded like. I don't know what to do with myself, and I don't even know how to describe what I'm currently feeling. I've gotten so used to being "in a deployment," I'm not quite sure how I'll suddenly handle NOT being in a deployment. Worrying, waiting for phone calls, living alone and lonely have become a regular part of my daily regime. I was so devastated when Matt left, horrified that I wouldn't be able to make it over a year without him, it strikes me as ironic how "used" to the deployment I've gotten. But the dominant feeling is excitement. I did not sleep last night nor do I expect to for the next 12 nights or so.

Lately I've been going through my archives, mostly reading my thoughts and feelings from the weeks before Matt came home for his R&R leave nine long months ago. How excited I was! How nervous! I remember driving to the airport to get him and how thrilled I was - I could hardly see straight. I remember pacing anxiously in front of the security gate, burning a hole in the carpet, wondering how things would be different, if they would be different, but as soon as I saw him, all my worries melted away. I fell in love all over again. Love at first sight. A few weeks before Matt came home, I wrote that, "I don't like the feeling of letting Matt go - it's close kin to that of falling down a dark hole and not knowing when you're going to hit the ground if at all - and while our 15 days together will undoubtedly make all that pain worthwhile, I'm not looking forward to our third goodbye; however, I do receive solace from knowing this is the last time I'll ever have to feel that again. After this, there's only hellos." In 13 days, he will be home. For good.

I selfishly want to be the only one to go to the base to pick him up the day of his homecoming. My feelings are so conflicting because on the one hand, I know his family has missed him very much and has every right to be present on the day he gets here, but on the other hand, I want him all to myself. I get along excellently with his mom, so I'm surprised at the feelings of discord that have recently arisen and know they have to do with Matt's homecoming. When I send her emails to update her on Matt's departure from the 'Stan and she replies with exclamations about how much she misses him and how anxious she is to see him, I feel as though she's patronizing how much I miss him and how anxious I am to see him. I know this isn't the case, but in my experience, if you can't pinpoint where the feelings are coming from, there's usually no stopping them.

His mom left a message on our answering machine last night in which she referred to Matt as "my Matt" (as in her Matt), and the possessiveness that presented itself in me at the utterance of those words was almost comical. When I told Matt about it later, he just laughed. In even the best in-law relationships, it always seems the most tension resides between a mother and daughter-in-law. Were it not for tradition, it would almost seem more appropriate if the mother were to walk her son down the aisle and give him away rather than the father walking the daughter down - females are usually the only ones who use possessive pronouns with names. In over 3 years with Matt and 23 with my dad, I've never heard either of them refer to me as "their" Erika.

But I digress. The small details I've been stressing out over Matt's homecoming - whether or not I'll have to fight his mom for the first hug, which car he'll ride in on the way home (we'll have two), how to nicely ask everyone to leave if they overstay their welcome (as in, when the feelings of wanting Matt to myself become too overwhelming to bear) - seem irrelevant and silly in a lot of ways. I know it'll all work out when the day rolls around, but my uncanny necessity to stress out trumps allowing myself to believe everything will go my way.

Regardless of my impetuous (and not all that surprising) selfishness, the important part is that he is coming home. He'll be here, in my arms, flesh and bone, safe and sound, and that is far more meaningful than imagining his mom is pulling off the gloves over "who missed him more." It doesn't matter. Ultimately all that matters is HE IS COMING HOME!!

wishing matt was here @ 11:55 AM+

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