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Continued From: HERE

The Beginning: HERE

 

Fall somehow went by quickly and all too slowly that year. Hailey’s first Christmas was soon upon me, and I had been living on the base barely coming home to change clothes and sleep. He was still deployed with slim odds of being home and family was still so far away. One day his sister and I decided not to let it dampen the holiday spirit and we walked for hours through Wal-Mart, cramming the cart full of tons of décor. It was the first time the two of us had laughed endlessly in a long time.

We put lights on every part of the house inside and out. We hung ornaments all over the place and wrapped more packages for Hailey than the poor kid knew what to do with. In a meager attempt to make up for all that missing time, I made that giant mistake of going way financially overboard on Hailey that Christmas.

As the day loomed closer, we were surprised with news that he would be home. His parents made plans to come out to California and what had looked to be a lonely Christmas was turning into a full blown holiday. We prepped the house for his return, decorated some more, bought him presents as well, stocked up on ham and all the table fixings for a giant Christmas dinner.

I wasn’t quite prepared for what would be returning from the desert. My friend that had left came home a little jaded, quiet, to himself. Moments he would be thrilled to be around all of us and others he wanted to be left alone.  He was not happy to see a completely decorated house, instead he was irate at the amount of money I had spent. Christmas was successful because of all the family, but once we were on our own again, things downward spiraled quickly. He was home only a month or so before he left for the desert again. Neither of us were able to relate to the other’s feelings at all.

This time when he left I felt a sort of relief. I had become accustomed to maintaining the house on my own and not having anyone question my every move with Hailey. I was learning a lot at work and finally starting to see the success of all my time pay off. Friendships were made with all of the long work hours and a sense of pride and belonging was taking hold of my life.

We contacted each other much less while he was gone this time and when it was time for him to come home, when we went to the airport to get him, my stomach was tied in nervous knots. I wasn’t ready for what was about to occur.

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