Last night I had a dream. I am at the same troop at Schofield that I was at when I said my first goodbye to Aaron. It is the day he and his fellow soldiers are supposed to get home. Girlfriends and wives and children line the buildings, eager to see the ones they love after 15 treacherous months without them. The wives that have become friends through their loneliness are standing in a group, exchanging plans they have with their respective husbands for that night. Many of them, I can tell, are hoping that when their husband steps off that bus, he won’t be coming back from Iraq as an unfixable man, like some inevitably will. I, on the other hand, am standing off to the side, by myself, knowing that this will be the last time I will have to wait for my life to begin. We all hear the buses before we can see them – the rumble of the engines sends goosebumps down my arms, and as the sea of people turn their heads to the gates, I do the same. The chattering of the crowd gets louder and it turns into nervous, giddy babbling. The kids run around, getting their “WELCOME HOME DADDY!” signs ready.
In the thirty seconds it takes for the buses to pull around the corner and take their places in the long processional, I run the entire past 15 months through my head. I think of how much Aaron and I have gone through and how much we have grown, and I am so happy that we can finally go on a date that doesn’t include a computer screen or a phone. As the soldiers pour out of the buses, I see families reunited again after such a tough ordeal. I see tears, hugs, smiles, laughter, and kisses that never want to end. But I don’t see my husband. I wait and I wait and I wait, thinking that he will find me. I see Matt Gallagher, a mutual friend of ours, hugging his girlfriend Annie not too far away from me, and as I run up to him he sees me too.
“Where is he???” I gasp.
“What, you didn’t hear?” he responds.
“Hear what?” My mind races.
“Oh man, Sarah, I don’t know how to tell you this. They decided to keep him there for another 15 months. They need him to lead special missions… building a new JSS… important for the well-being of… very important role in the rebuilding process…” I couldn’t make out what he was saying over the screaming in my head. My stomach twisted and my heart broke as my body sunk to the ground. Another 15 months.
And then I woke up.