This Veterans Day brought back a memory of something I had never gone through before. I decided to share it…I’m sure other military spouses will know exactly what I went through and how it felt. Here it goes…
I was the most non-military person you’d ever meet before I married my husband. Being raised in a blue-collar, musician filled family, the last thing I’d ever thought of doing was marrying a (USMC) military man. I had to learn so much about being a military wife; luckily my husband was very patient with me. His 6th and last deployment was coming to an end finally. We went through a year of being apart; though this wasn’t the first time, it was the first time being husband and wife. I thought I would be able to handle it just fine. I have to admit, I had a few bad days, but I kept as busy as I could. The good that came out of that year of being away from him was I started my own business, renovated our home, lost over 100 lbs, strengthened relationships with my close friends, and spent lots of time with family. The bad was the constant knots in your stomach, the stress, the fear, the not knowing where he’s at, always waiting by the phone, checking your email, going days without hearing from him, barely getting any sleep because you want to stay up to take his 5 minute phone call, not being able to call him after a bad day, him missing out on family outings and holidays, and most of all not knowing if he’s going to come home in one piece or alive.
But the day was finally here! He was coming home and for good! The 12 years my husband was in the Marine Corps he was never greeted by anyone but personnel from his unit when he returned home. By this time I have a full-time corporate job, my business is getting started, and two blogs…a full plate. But…with my husband never having family there to greet him home after a deployment in his 12 years of active duty service, there was no way I was not going to be there when he got off that bus. You can only imagine all the planning I had to do to make this happen.
The Plane Ride
During the time I was back and forth between San Antonio, Texas and Jacksonville, North Carolina where he was stationed, I was very fortunate that my family and friends were always available to take me to the airport, whether it was from home or work…both being a bit far. I made to the airport on time (San Antonio) to make my way to North Carolina to finally see my husband after a year. When I landed in Atlanta to hop on my connecting flight, not only did my plane arrive late, the connecting flight departed a few minutes early. There aren’t very many flights that go to Jacksonville, NC…after my flight, there was only one more. I was beyond devastated…so upset…I went into the nearest restroom and puked my guts out. What was I going to do now? First person I called was my mom, I started balling! Crying and trying to tell her what had happened, I could barely breathe. After our conversation I went to the nearest customer service desk, I explained to them what had happened, that I needed to get to Jacksonville and that same night! All the representative could say was that she was sorry and they would try their best to get me on the next flight. When I turned around to look behind me, there were so many people, angry, crying, going through the same thing I was and going to the same place. I called the Delta airline customer service line, what did I have to lose, I was stuck in Atlanta anyway! They told me the same thing the front desk people said…that they would try to get me on that last flight there or the flight first thing in the morning. If I would have agreed to take the flight first thing in the morning I would miss my husband walking off that bus…I would not be the first face he saw coming home from deployment. I even looked into renting a car and driving there, but with the distance, there was no way I would make it there on time.
I paced that airport back and forth…I had not slept due to excitement and hadn’t eaten since I lost my appetite. What the hell was I going to do now? I needed to get there! Not sure how this popped into my head but …I remember meeting a client when I was working at the Marriott that was an airline attendant…I don’t quite remember the story but I remember her saying airlines usually held emergency seats. I walked over to the nearest help desk, cut in front of everyone like a crazy women, and demanded they get me on that next flight. I was extremely loud, yelling, crying, telling them to have a heart and that I could not miss seeing my husband get off that bus, and I know they hold emergency seats! At this point I had nothing to lose! The representative was so sweet; she was a military wife herself. She told me to calm down, had someone get me a bottle of water, and gave me some tissues. She asked what my name was and said so calmly, “Mrs. Monterrosa, we WILL get you on that next flight, don’t you worry”. My flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville left within that hour and I was to land at midnight. My husband’s bus was arriving at 4am…I still had time to freshen up and get dressed. I had been in jeans and a t-shirt for hours by this time and I looked like a raccoon from all the crying.
I Made It!
Arriving in Jacksonville, North Carolina, my husband had set up for a good friend of his who was also a Marine to pick me up from the airport. He was already there when I landed. There was just one problem…my luggage was lost! I had nothing to change into, no toiletries to bathe and freshen up with. Thankfully I had my makeup bag in my purse which I normally do not. My husband’s friend was a total gentleman; he picked me up at midnight, drove me to Wal-Mart so I could buy a few things to freshen up with; I even looked for something to change into but had no luck, plus I didn’t want to be late. We get to the house I shower, freshen up my hair and make-up, and then we make our way to the base (Camp Legeune). We get there and we are one of two cars in the parking lot; after sitting for an hour, we find out the bus is running late. I felt so bad for my husband’s friend, it’s now 1:45am and he has to be at work by 6am. He never complained once. We both even napped in his car. I remember barely opening my eyes and I see the bus pull up. My husband’s friend says,” well there’s his bus, he’s here!” I immediately jump out of the car, at this point I could care less how sleep deprived I look. I made it! After missing flights, vomiting, crying, screaming like a mad women at the airport, losing my luggage, not eating, not sleeping, none of that even mattered…I was there when he was going to walk off that bus!
I was so excited, my heart was racing…I was thinking do I wait for him to walk up to me, do I run up to him at the doorway of the bus…what do I do now! He walked off that bus with the biggest smile, it was the same smile he had on our wedding day. We both just walked really fast to each other. The first thing he did was hug me tight, he couldn’t even let go and seeing him tear up, I knew all I went through to get there didn’t matter; I was literally at a loss for words. That is a feeling that I will never forget. Not only was he home safely, seeing his wife after a year, someone who he loved was actually there the minute he walked off that bus like he always wanted. I was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t even cry. I wasn’t even tired, hungry, and could have cared less if my luggage was found or not. My Marine was home, safe, and I was the first person he got to see. (A big thank you to Teekie for picking me up from the airport, getting me on base, & taking pictures of this moment for me.)
Military Wife Duty
Yes, our military goes through training, they’re suppose to be tough, go through war, protect us, and serve our country. But they are still human. Support your loved ones that are in the military, we can only imagine what they go through, what they see, what they feel. They need patience, understanding, and most of all love. After all, it’s because of them that we are free. Happy Veteran’s Day to all of our precious military.