it seems appropriate on thanksgiving that I’d try to put into words the gratitude we have for our friends & family who surrounded us with so much love during this first deployment.
this is an imperfect analogy, but you know how when you’re running a race, there are stretches when you’re all alone? and that's ok -- there’s space to breathe and soak up your surroundings, really process the race you’re running – but after a while, it gets lonely and you get tired. that’s when you need that next cheering section, water station, or homemade sign telling you to press on. well, that’s what our friends & family did during this deployment – when we’d just run uphill or were out of breath or desperately needed some nourishment, they met us with such giving, encouraging hearts. to give you a sense of the depth and breadth of their acts of kindness, here’s a partial list of what we’re oh so grateful for:
thank you for welcoming us into your home – for feeding us, enduring baby cries waking you up at all hours & making us feel a part of your lives. thank you for babysitting Ellie – for giving her such sweet attention so I could go to a yoga class, sit in a coffee shop, get a pedicure. thank you for checking on all three of us – emails, cards & care packages to Ryan, calls/text/emails to me. it meant so much to know you were thinking of us.
thank you for your prayers – some of you prayed each day for our family, others were there when I’d send a text with a really specific request – we truly felt surrounded by your prayers. thank you for inviting us to pizza friday each and every week at your house – it became such an important benchmark in our weeks. thank you for being willing to eat dinner at 5:30 so I could get E home for bed. thank you for driving us to the airport, picking us up from the airport, meeting us as weary travellers, reassuring me I really could do one. more. flight.
to my parents, who took ellie & i into their home for two weeks in july & two weeks in september, we wouldn't have made it without you. our indiana getaways can be summed up in the way we looked arriving (tired, worn out, exhausted), versus on the plane headed back (rested, happy, encouraged). you provided meals, wonderful conversation, long walks, adventures, a warm home & so much love. thank you for being there every step of the way.
thank you for pitching in – for installing baby gates, mowing our lawn, texting/calling each time you were headed to the grocery to see if you could grab us something. thank you to the very brave not yet a day friend for flying back from dallas with the stroller caddy when I left it there.
to all the guy friends who held ellie & gave her some guy time, thank you. to the sweet friends who insisted I have their extra Kindle – it was a saving grace for late night reading when I was sharing a room with e or on the plane when she finally fell asleep in my arms. you are so generous.
thank you for dropping off baked goods on our porch with a sweet note – it completely brightened my day. thank you for sending me home with leftovers – it saved me from walking in the kitchen after I put Ellie down the next night and sighing thinking “what on earth am I going to have for dinner?” thank you for your genuine encouragement – for lifting me up when I couldn’t quite muster the strength. thank you for answering my tearful late night phone call & just listening -- not trying to solve anything.
thank you for taking care of that dead cockroach that had been under Ryan’s boot for a few days because I could not-clean-up-one-more-dead-cockroach. thank you for taking our lawn mower in to get cleaned when I oh-so-wisely put gasoline in the oil tank – I promise never mow the lawn again. thank you for coming to our house to make dinner for me & hang out so I didn’t have to be alone or get a babysitter that night. thank you for going to four drugstores trying to find the right nasal aspirator when E & I were battling colds.
thank you for coming to visit and immediately tackling the pile of dishes in the sink or folding the clean laundry or running errands with me. thank you for waking up early & taking ellie on a walk (even if I accidentally locked you out of the house!) to the dear friend who came and not only helped me do about a thousand things for a baby shower I was hosting; but who also potted two mums; ran to get a rug pad I’d completely forgotten and who was with me at midnight trying to get a new rug under our VERY heavy bed, laughing hysterically we could be smushed like bugs at any moment – I truly love you & owe you one. to the friend who literally pulled out ten bags of vines/weeds/overgrowth from our backyard: you're the best.
to the navy wives who also had husbands deployed at the same time -- who prayed alongside me, who gave me the knowing hug when our babies had lost their minds & so had we, who met for a spontaneous lunch or dinner, and who inspired me every day by your strength -- i'm so very grateful to you.
to the navy wife who was in her third trimester of pregnancy and had a 20 month old, but who insisted on watching ellie each thursday so I could go to my favorite yoga class – you’re my hero. to all the friends who checked in on me during Hurricane Sandy, who texted, called, prayed, came over, offered to build a canoe from toothpicks, who identified themselves as “strong swimmers” – thank you for caring for us! to the friends who came to watch Ellie & drive me to the hospital to meet a dear friend's new baby at low tide -- during the hurricane -- y'all are rockstars. to the friends who came over with wine in hand each & every time ryan was extended, thank you.
& readers, i owe you a thank you -- because this blank canvas, this space to write was such a blessing to me over those months. it gave me a creative outlet, a way to process & a community i've come to cherish so much. you cheered us on in your own way & it meant so much.
i hesitate to thank people by name, because there are honestly so many I’d love to thank, but there are a few families who I can literally not imagine this deployment without. thinking of their generosity to our family, on essentially a daily basis during the deployment, brings tears to my eyes and was such saving grace. I hope that in some small way, we can extend the kindness back to you – know that you’re truly family to us. to those families (you know who you are): we love you so much– thank you for sticking with us every step of the way.
photo above was in one of the very first moments the three of us were together at ryan's homecoming -- lots more homecoming photos coming soon (yay!), but it is not an exaggeration to say that our family wouldn't have made it to that moment without all the acts of kindness above.