Michelle and I have been friends for over 7 years. We met at a college job when she was pregnant with her son, Logan, then a year or so later we all moved in together. In the meantime, I had met Trevor, we started dating, and he left on the Kosovo deployment. Michelle has always been a great friend to me, and I sure needed her during that deployment. It wasn't even that I pouted about Trevor all the time or we cried together-she just seemed to know when I needed to be crabby and when I needed a distraction and some laughter. A few weeks before Trevor got home, she left for Iraq. It was not a fun few weeks-I was anxious for all kinds of reasons. Trevor proposed while on leave from his deployment and I instantly asked Michelle to be a bridesmaid. I refused, and Trevor agreed, to get married without her there. Thus, our 19 month engagement. When Michelle was in Iraq I hung out with Logan as much as I could-we did some pretty fun stuff together. Michelle came home, stood by me as Trevor and I got married, and before long Logan was going to be a big brother. Fast forward a little bit...Layne was born then Michelle got a promotion that came with a unit transfer and BAM! She's going to Kuwait with Trevor. Like I've mentioned, I knew about this deployment for years beforehand, but finding out Michelle was going too was quite the game changer. By then, I had been through a deployment with each of them, but I wasn't so sure about the Army taking them from me at the same time. OK, enough with our little love story.
Fast forward some more...Michelle got home last weekend, finally! Coming home is overwhelming...exciting, but overwhelming. I know how much people want to see their loved ones ASAP once they're back, but the whole process is exhausting. Everyone's different, but I thought I'd give Michelle some time with her babies before smothering her. So, yesterday was the day!
Knowing they're home, or even in the States is great, but there's a different kind of relief that comes with seeing it for yourself. I hung out with Michelle, Layne, and Payten (Michelle's nephew) until it was time to walk to get Logan from school. On the way back, we challenged the boys to race up this huge hill.
Layne was a trooper.
What do you do when you get to the top of a huge hill?
We went to Jeryl's, Michelle's mom, and played for a bit. I've gotten to know Michelle's family pretty well over the years.
When playtime was over, we were off to meet Melissa, Michelle's sister, at Pizza Ranch for supper. The boys wanted to play in the basketball area, so we went to find a table nearby. We just so happened to find a table right next to Jamie, Adam, Parker and Elliot! How fun running into them!
He cleans off the bones better than I do!
Payten insisted on eating his pizza with ice cream.
Elliot looked over at our table at Layne and said, "Her is cute!"
The basketball area they have really just makes you feel like you're in a zoo watching wild animals run around in their natural habitat. We joked about needing a sign that says "Please do not feed the children."
Logan tried one of the prize vending machines without any money and hit the jackpot!
We all had to take a turn:
With our bellies full, we stopped to pick up some movies and went to Melissa's house. Michelle got home just in time to have a few weeks with her sister before Melissa heads out for Afghanistan. It was great to spend time with both of them!
Trying on Logan's shoes.
And Mom's shoes.
We didn't do anything too exciting, but I loved every minute of it. I hate to get on a soap box, but to those of you who get to do this every day...
...don't take it for granted.
Welcome Home, Michelle! And good luck, Melissa!