What does that title mean to you? What kind of energy reverberates when you hear someone say something like that?
I'm here today to talk about one of the most incredible feelings every human can relate to:
There are a few moments in life in which the emotion is understood so clearly across all boundaries, and I am currently in the thick of one of them... and since it's not always possible to put paint to canvas when inspiration strikes in moments like these, I have to write about it. As I draft this, I am 37 weeks pregnant with my second baby and so eagerly awaiting the moment I can turn to my husband, Caleb, and say, "it's time!!" When will it happen? How will I feel? What hilarious thing will he say and do? Ugh, where will we be? Hopefully it's after a great night of sleep and our home construction is finished and we have actually packed and I shaved my legs this time. With my first, I had to be induced due to sudden onset of high blood pressure, so that moment came in a much different way than I had expected. With precautions taken this time around, I'm hoping it's a much more organic process, but regardless how we get there, I'm so excited for the moment we get to hold that sweet baby boy.
Caleb often notes that sometimes the best time in a highly anticipated moment is right before- the excitement and expectations have been building over time, it's finally here, and no events have transpired yet that fail to meet expectations. I suppose the truth of that depends entirely on those expectations, but thinking about it only in terms of the emotion in discussion, it is certainly an amazing moment!
There was another time in my life I felt such strong eagerness: arriving home from my first deployment. That first deployment was much harder than the others because everything was new and those 9 months felt longer than any other period I've experienced in my life thus far. Every minute away from family hurt. I remember doing my best throughout the process to not count the days, to just settle into that monotonous rhythm and avoid coming up for air to think about how much time remained. We had a 500 mile running challenge on the ship and I used that ritual as a way to feel like I was making progress even though I was *literally* running in place. It was the same Taylor Swift album every run and during my cool down I would convince myself, "another mile! another day! it will come!"
And then it did.
The evening of March 27, 2013 we could see the lights of Virginia Beach (and had phone service!) as we paced in slow circles waiting for the morning to come when we could make our approach up Thimble Shoals Channel. After many months on a ship, you start to feel its heartbeat. Just a few different vibrations or watchstander demeanor can be an alert we have new tasking before the captain ever makes an announcement. Most of the time, it's a slow, methodical pulse, but that night, the mood was electric, and hardly anyone slept. Anyone could walk around the p-ways and know something much anticipated was about to happen without having to understand any other context clues. My night bridge watch ticked by as every passing second sounded echoes of a Fibonacci like countdown to a glorious reunion. That is the moment I feel like I am in again right now.
Morning did finally come, and last minute preps this time included dress uniforms and as my XO called it, "war paint" for the females. I requested not to be on the bridge team for this transit, and happily found my place midships when the order was given to "man the rails." While the line of sailors looked like a singular unit, each person standing there at parade rest represented a wellspring of new experiences, knowledge, and growth. The boatswain mates adorned the ship with it's patriotic lei. My excitement bubbled into tears as we made our final course change to what I knew after many previous inbound transits to be heading 184, the final heading on our 9 month journey and the one that would finally bring us home. As we inched passed each pier on Norfolk Naval Station, ships sounded their horns in a glorious jubilee, and I reflected on the tedious, patience-trying journey that took us halfway around the world. We approached pier 5 and the crowd of people welcoming us home was overwhelming. Clever posters and smiling faces could not begin to describe the journeys all of these families have endured over recent months. The moment I had anticipated for so long was finally here.
Even though I've been through this before (or perhaps because I have been through this before), I know I have no idea what to expect when we welcome in this new life. In the meantime, I'm sending my love to all of you and can't wait to share the inspiration he brings with him when his time of arrival is finally here. Until then, I will be enjoying this slow season.