Friday, December 4, 2009

flight line and teardrops. (originally written on august 14th, 2008)




flight line and teardrops....
rain in the summer.

cars, like ants, we drove on base.
seemingly knew to flock to the same area....
"the food" (for ants), i suppose....
is where we all parked....

herds of families walked in together....
children, children.
so many children.
so many wives.
and hearts.
and welcome home signs....
the ushers at the entrance passing out tiny american flags.
and red, white and blue pom poms....
all for us to cheer our marines in....
to welcome them home....

i kept my shades over my eyes....

we shuffled in and sat in the large room....
a large television overhead and seats everywhere....
vending machines.
tables covered in playdoh for the kids....
and a snack room....
with snacks and drinks covering the tables for anyone who cared to munch.
not i.
i sat uneasy.

i looked around this large room....
everyone here for the same reason as i.
to welcome someone home.
what about the ones who weren't here today?
what about the ones who SHOULD have been here today,
but weren't.....
what about them?
where were they?
what were THEY doing?
it hurt....

this is REALITY....
Man, this is our reality.
this is real life....
and just another normal day in the life of the military....

another group of our men and women coming home....
after being gone for MONTHS!!!!

this blonde woman in a knee length black dress talks over the speaker....
"your marines are about 30 minutes away. i will get on here and let you know when they are about 15 minutes away, and at that time, you will be allowed to head out to the flight line and wait for your marine."

....

.... no more than about 7 minutes passed, and she was back.
that blonde in the black dress....

"your marines are about 10 minutes away now. you may head outside to the flight line and wait for their arrival.... CON-GRAT-U-LA-TIONS!!!! You did it!!!!"

man!....
man oh man oh man oh man.....
this is INSAAAAANE!

we all walk out to the flight line.
there are red tents for those who would like to avoid the sun.

and there.
there was the marine corps band.
they are quite a musical group.
i mean, really.
all it took was one song.
no, wait.
just the beginning of one song, to bring tears to my eyes....
the played to the left,
as everyone gathered at the flight line....
what an INTENSE feeling....
on the ground....
a bunch of men and women walking around....
you felt like you were a part of top gun.
the rumbling of the ground....
the vibrations in your chest,
as the planes and jets roared their engines and flew outta there....
what an AMAZING view....
a fantastic one....

but where was OUR jet....
the one that held OUR marines?
the crowd of people searched the skies....
and off to the left.
up in the clouds.
there was a tiny white light....
the front of their plane coming in....
and the light got bigger....
and closer....
and lower.....

and the sound of the jet got louder.
and louder.
and closer.
and this HUUUGE oversized jet
FINALLY
touched down....
speeding past us....
and off to the right....


about 5 minutes later, it comes taxiing back.
and rests to the right....
the stairs are pushed against the plane....
and within a few moments,
the door slides up....
this jet is a BEAST!!!!
it's HUUUUGE!

at this point Taylor is crying uncontrollably!!!!
holy cow.
my right arm is shaking from holding her weight for so long.
I want to put her down, but she can't see if i do...
she's clenching me sooo tightly....
her nerves, probably so much greater than mine....
and mine were stomach turning on a 135 pounder.
i can only imagine what hers were like on a little 55 pounder....
but i tell you this....
when her tears fell....
so did mine....
and when her heart ached....
so did mine....
(it's amazing how that works when you become a parent.....
never before have i been so directly affected by someone else...
but HER.... HER heart is directly attached to mine, i tell you....)

minutes pass, and here they come....
OUR MARINES....
piling off the plane!
i couldn't see Jason, but I knew he was there...
I saw marine after marine....
and so started the tears.....
those men and women,
touching U.S. ground again....
Welcome Home troops....
Welcome Home....

and they hand in their weapon....
and sign in for their rooms.
get their room key....
and wait for their bags.....
their bags that are brought in on this HUGE truck....
green bags just PILED on this truck.
to us.... that's what it looks like.... a bunch of green bags....
but to our troops, these bags are their lives for these past months....
their lives were stuffed into these "green bags."

and like clockwork, all these men, lined up....
shoulder to shoulder.... starting from the back of the truck.
and handed these bags down this file of strong men....
none of them seeming to become tired....
sweat dripping off of every single one of them,
but not one of them slowing down....
the bags made it down the file to the very last man, where he would drop the bag
in no particular order or sequence....
and finally about 15 minutes later all of these hundreds of bags
made up rows and rows of our soldiers lives....

i stood in the middle of all the passing marines,
looking down at their boots....
there was still sand in them....
there was still sand from iraq in their boots....
our troops are home,
but just hours before, stood on war grounds....
it made me overcome with such a wide range of emotions....
a part of me overjoyed they were home safely...
another part of me soooooo disturbed that they were even there to begin with....

one of the marines loud voice, yells over the crowds "LISTEN UP MARINES!!!! DOES ANYONE NEED TRANSPORTATION TO THE BARRACKS?"

I quickly looked up....
and around....
if someone needed transportation to the barracks,
that meant they probably didn't have anyone waiting for them when they arrived.
I looked around....

His voice asked again, "DOES ANYONE NEED TRANSPORTATION TO THE BARRACKS?"

He paused.
once more, "TRANSPORTATION TO THE BARRACKS? ANYONE?"

No one seemed to need transportation at that time....
I exhaled....
to me that meant everyone had somebody....

He smiled....
as did i....

about 5 minutes later, I heard a young man say to another, "where can I get a ride to the barracks?"

I quickly turned around and there was a tall sandy blonde haired gentleman with round glasses on, standing alone holding his pack on his back, and that "green bag" over his shoulder and a black briefcase looking bag in his other hand....

I turned and said, "Thank you for what you've done. I am glad you're home safely.... Welcome Home!!!!"

I just wanted to hug him....
but you don't know what to do.....
you don't know how they are feeling emotionally.
you know?
i found this same exact feeling when I worked in the hospital....
when i'd meet a cancer patient for the very first time....
what do you say to them, you know?
how do you act towards them?
how are THEY feeling?
do you say you are sorry?
what if they aren't sorry?
what if you offend them by saying you're sorry?
i didn't want to make it any more awkward than it already was....
and so i just touched his arm and said, "welcome home," again.....

all the while,
my shades never left my nose...
because if they did....
these brave brave troops would see how incredibly weak i really was....
tears unable to stop pouring from my eyes as i walked this flight line....
To see Taylor in Jason's arms was incredible.
It really was.....

but my heart didn't stop there.....
there were so many others as well....
so many reunions....
husbands.
wives.
children.
parents.
newborns.
aunts.
uncles.
grandparents.
godparents....
boyfriends.
girlfriends.
brothers.
sisters.
friends.
fellow troops.
it goes on.
and on.
and on.
and i was just here.....

just another ant....
on another normal day.
in the life of the military.....
wishing i could do more.
say more.
give more.

and yet, all i could do,
was walk this FLIGHT LINE....
with my American Flag.
Pom poms.
AND TEARDROPS.....

Welcoming Home our brave men and women....

6 comments:

Pat Tillett said...

OMG!
Ineed to put my sunglasses on. I think my tears are going to short out my keyboard.
Beautiful, powerfull, so so sad, so very happy, awesome!!! One of the best things I've read...ever...

buymebarbies said...

WOW!!! This should be part of a book....Ash! SOOOO beautiful and wonderful to know you have such compassion and love for people. Taylor will be a better person in this world because of you. I love you both!!!

Ashley King said...

aww thanks poopa! makes my eyes water when i re-read it... takes me right back to that day all over again.... PHEWF!

Ashley King said...

awww thanks momma!!!! =) we love you too!!!! =)

mrscolombo said...

Wow, Ashley...I didn't even know that Jason was in Iraq...that's how out of touch I was!! Amazingly touching story. Would you mind if I shared it with a couple of my friends? It is personal...but so beautiful too. We hear soooo little how war touches the lives of our men, women AND children. We need reminders. This was so beautiful. It takes me back to another era and another Marine that I used to pray for....Thank God they both came back alive!

Ashley King said...

this was Jason Diaz... Taylor's dad. He served from January 14th, through August 14th, 2008.... i don't ever talk about him. so you weren't that out of touch! i don't mind who you share it with. the more people's hearts it can touch, the better! people don't see the other side!!!!