After only about three hours of sleep, Kevin and I woke up to finish loading the moving truck and cleaning all that we could before our walk through. Since our walk through was a lot earlier than that of what we had hoped for we decided to leave El Paso that morning in place of late afternoon/evening like originally planned. That morning we were able to see one of the most beautiful sunrises. The one thing we already miss very much is the open and clear skies of El Paso.
Kevin and Nic decided to have the truck weighed around 9am and were on the road shortly after that. At 10am I headed to the school to check the girls out, which took about an hour. We had to say our goodbyes and thank you's before we could get on the road. It was definitely an emotional time that led to many tears amongst all of us...the girls and adults. In conversation, we discovered that Mrs. Maxim, their principal at Garcia Elementary, actually has family in Mena. Talk about a small world. Garcia Elementary was a wonderful school for the girls and it has been a school that has helped Caitlin more than anywhere else so far. It was heartbreaking to say our goodbyes to everyone, and even harder to watch Caitlin tell Mrs. Zelenak goodbye. We were all very lucky with this school., the administrators, and many teachers. Thank you for the memories and for taking such wonderful care of our children! We miss you all at Garcia Elementary!
When we finally got on the road around 1130, Kevin and Nic were about 100 miles ahead of us, so it took some time to catch up to them. We finally caught up with the guys around Midland, Texas and stayed with them the rest of the drive. Around 11pm we hit Ft. Worth and met up with our friends, Craig, Mel, and their monsters for a quick dinner at Waffle House. It had been years since I last had hash browns from there! Yum!!! Around midnight, we were back on the road. The drive went smooth and without any issues until we hit the last hour and a half. Once we were off of the interstate I started to struggle with staying awake. I would say that every 10-20 miles we had to stop so that I could get out and walk around in order to avoid falling asleep. It was terrible!!! After being awake for 24 hours, I was at the end of being able to keep up. At 6am we finally pulled into the driveway of our new house! We were all past the point of exhaustion and each grabbed a pillow, blanket and found a spot on the floor that we slept for around four hours. I don't think the floor has ever felt that comfortable before!
As you can all see, this Veterans Day was spent quite differently than most. It was also spent with a lot of thinking time. I can honestly say that my husband was able to spend Veteran's Day with somewhat of a smile upon his face. He was able to leave El Paso and Fort Bliss behind and head to our new house, in the middle of nowhere. For the first time in years, he was able to do something that he wanted to do and something that he deserved. This year for many reasons touched me more than I expected. At one point I was driving, the girls were asleep, and all I could think about was the past almost ten years. We have gone through more than many with the living the military life and health issues, as we have also experienced more than most. For over eight years my husband has served in the army, while going through two tours in Iraq. We have seen many of the ups and downs that this life can bring. We now live with and through what war leaves behind, and even though some days can be quite a struggle I am forever thankful that my husband did come home. While many marriages do not survive this life, I can honestly say that the army has made us stronger than we have ever been. We have seen our weak points and we have come close to hitting bottom, but with the love we share, we have managed to survive it all and come out on top.
It seems unreal to me still that as of January 13, 2012 Kevin will in fact be retired from the army. I could not be more proud of the man I married and love!
I hope that on this past Veterans Day that each of you took the time to think about our veterans and what they endure, as well as their families. This life is far from easy and it takes a special person to be able to withstand it all. I would like to hope and think that if you saw someone in uniform or know someone that is in the military, you thanked them for their services. They say that less than 1% of our population is military. Think about that for a moment... Never forget the ones that are making sure that we are all able to live as free as we do. Thank yous, handshakes, smiles, and kind words go a long ways with our vets and their families...