Last time Chris was deployed (in 2003), there was a distinct beginning, middle, and end. The beginning was the worst, because we never knew when the last goodbye was going to be, so each goodbye was heartbreaking. The middle was OK. After the scary stuff (the whole march to Baghdad thing) it became nice. We had a once a week phone call and daily e-mails. The end (8 months later) was fun - a big welcome home bash with signs, balloons, and jubilation. A few days later, we had a party for him here, and a few weeks later his parents had a big party for him in his hometown.
This activation/deployment has been so different. First off, we eased into it. Chris came back to visit a few times before going to California. He had a long visit in September before going overseas. The overseas part was shorter this time, but the communication was a pain. Then more California time which gave him a couple of short visits. For the last 2 months he's only been 8 hours away, so visits have been more plentiful.
So, it all seems very anti-climatic to me. Kind of blah. No fan-fare. No welcome home parties. No big tears/hugs/kisses kind of thing you see on TV.
30 days from now everything will go back to the way it was 14 months prior. It feels like a time warp - almost like we've been living in a coma for the last year. We'll see if we can pick up where we left off.