Merrill called us on Monday night.
"I'm coming home early. I'm going to fly in Saturday morning. I want you to help me surprise Janeen."
We immediately planned a "Farewell Brunch" for the soon-departing families. We told everyone to be at our house Saturday morning at 9:30.
The families on their way out wondered why no one bothered to find out if they'd be at their own farewell party. (We could have put a little more thought into it...)
It was a looooong week.
On Thursday, Janeen got suspicious.
I, of course, was the model of calm, cool, collectedness.
Doug...not so much!
Have I ever mentioned that Doug doesn't lie? He doesn't. I can't think of one lie he's told in almost 10 years of marriage. He doesn't exaggerate. He doesn't stretch the truth. If you don't want to know what he got you for Christmas, DON'T ASK! (I don't.)
And if I don't want to know that I look fat in these jeans, once again...
So when Janeen cornered him, looked him right in the eyes, and said
"Doug! Do you know something?!?!?"
It took all he had to look back at her innocently and mutter "nuh uh!"
(I hope Merrill appreciates that we're both going to hell for him.)
Saturday morning FINALLY comes. Doug goes to the airport. I set up the party. People start arriving. To ensure she'd be here, I told Janeen I needed her help. She arrived, saw that I had things under control, and left again to change outfits.
"No problem!" I think..."She'll be right back..."
Doug and Lt. Colonel W. pick up "the package". They called from W's house.
"Is she there?"
"She went home to change. She'll be right back. Call back in five."
five minutes later...
"Is she back yet?"
"Not yet. Don't know where she is. Call back."
Ten minutes elapse. Then 15.
People wonder why I'm pacing nervously all over the house.
Why Doug isn't around.
Why I have the phone glued to my ear and I'm neglecting my guests.
I find Max. "RUN to Miss Janeen's house! Get her out of her bathroom and tell her I need her RIGHT NOW!"
Max returns. "She's not in her house!!!"
I finally discover she's been waylaid by a neighbor and is helping said neighbor cut fruit for the party.
Finally, FINALLY, I see her walking across the lawn.
30 minutes late!!! For 30 minutes "the package" has been cooling his heels and just WAITING!!!!
"She's HERE! SHE'S BACK!"
"Okay, we're just pulling in!"
(Or did he say we're just pulling out?)
I make an excuse and pull Janeen to the front of the house.
"Emily? What's wrong? What is it???"
No sign of them. Must have said "Just pulling OUT". Dang.
"Uh, nothing. I'm just stressed because Doug isn't here. Um...something happened...I'll tell you later...It's okay. I'm okay. Go get some food."
I wait. I pace. I want to cry.
Finally, FINALLY the car pulls up.
"MAX, go tell Miss Janeen I'm crying and I need her RIGHT NOW!"
Most people are in the backyard, but the people around me turn to stare since I'm obviously not crying.
He left for Afghanistan November 3rd, 2009.
He worked on disrespectful prisoners who lied and threatened him. (And had really really bad teeth.)
He missed more than half of his baby's life.
He carried a gun every single day for 7 months.
But he served--and returned--with honor.
And now Janeen finally has her husband back...
Four little kids finally have their Daddy back...
and Doug finally has his friend and office-mate back.
Welcome Home Merrill!
WE (really) MISSED YOU!!!!!!!
Oh, and THANK YOU!!!
Oh, and THANK YOU!!!