After about two weeks of inpatient care, Allen's doctors allowed him to take 30 days of convalescent leave so that he could be home for the holidays. We were pretty exctied about this since it had been a couple of weeks since I had seen the boys, and it had been almost a year since Allen had. It was also time for the boys to get to see Dad. They had done remarkably well under the difficult circumstances, but it was time they could see for themselves that he was okay.
December 6, 2007 Allen and I left Walter Reed and flew back to Kansas. There were many hoops to jump through to get everything approved and taken care of before we left, but we did it. Going home brought many emotions for all of us. Allen was completely overwhelmed and relieved to be home. I was overjoyed to see my kids again. It was the longest time I had ever been away from them at that point. The boys were just thrilled to have both of us home. After all it had been about 11 months since we had all been together as a family.
We spent several days just being home and together. The boys still had school, but outside of that we didn't do a whole lot. It was a difficult time to be home in some ways, just because of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. We actually requested that not a lot of people come by to visit so that Allen felt completely comfortable and had a little bit of time to adjust to being back in America. He also had to adjust to being a dad and husband again. For a long time, throughout the length of two deployments, he only had to take care of himself in the day to day. Now he had to adjust to being a part of a family again, and an active part at that. Still today, some 14 months later, we are all still adjusting. It does get better, but it takes a lot of time and patience from everyone.
The 30 days at home went way too fast. We enjoyed a quiet Christmas and New Year, with just our immediate family, my parents, and sister. It was awesome being a family unit again at such an important time of the year. On Christmas Eve we went to a Candle light communion service at our church, something we do every year. We had them reserve the back row for us, but Allen still had a very difficult time with it. We actually ended up making a quick exit and had to get him home. The candle light and being around so many people is a big trigger for him. However, at the time I was still very much learning what his triggers are. It can be very scary when a new trigger makes it's presence known, but I had to learn to stay calm and handle the situation. Even now, new things will trigger him that I am not prepared for but I have the confidence to handle them calmly and swiftly. We actually have not been to church since this night. Hopefully someday soon, he will have the confidence and tools that will allow us to attend services again.
The first part of January took us back to preparing to leave Makale and Dreyson again. We were to fly back to Walter Reed January 7, 2008, for what we thought would be just a couple of weeks. That couple of weeks turned into closer to three months which I will go into in a later post. Needless to say now though, our kids are leery of us having to leave and the time we will actually be gone. Makale regularly reminds us, that we were gone much longer than the two weeks we had promised.
Leaving the boys to go back to WRAMC was really difficult for me. I have a very hard time with goodbyes period, but to leave my kids again was awful. The few days leading up to leaving and then telling them goodbye was extremely painful. We were all in tears. Thanks so much to my wonderful parents and my sister who took care of the boys while we were gone. I know it wasn't easy, but they did an outstanding job.