“Homecoming: The Wife” by Geoffrey Petit

I remember seeing my wife for the first time after Iraq. Our homecoming was a sedate affair. We came home in waves as company’s not as a battalion. If we had all come home together maybe there would have been a bigger celebration, a bigger welcome. Instead a couple of people were there at Camp Pendleton when we pulled up in the rickety old blue bird buses. Around a third of my company had been drawn from either the TOW unit based out of Broken Arrow or from 1/24 troops based out of Arkansas and Mississippi. They would have to wait for their families to greet them later. My wife was among the few that did show up. She and her mother were waiting for me there as we off-loaded from the bus. She was short, 5’2, brown hair, homely but beautiful in her own way. God’s know, I was happy to see her. That first kiss back was something. The kind that stole your breath away and stopped the heart for a bit. I had things to do. Marines to see to, a barracks to fill with beautiful beer. What a rush of emotion, conflicting, cascading and overwhelming

I was scared. Scared to show affection. Scared of a lot of things. It is funny being around an all-male combat unit for eight months. Seeing a woman was a rare event, a glimpse in the chow hall, they were always soldiers, not Marines. Poor females, eye-fucked by almost every male there on base as they sauntered down the dusty drag to the chow hall. Here was my wife, in all of her delicate innocence, the ideal that I supposedly protected. So that maybe she would not have to suffer the terrors and our children would not have to fight these wars. Back, home, life, love. It was worth it holding her again.

She had to put up with my habits that I had learned over there. Loud noises evoked a certain reaction, crowds bothered me, and I constantly scanned the roads for IED’s. She was a saint with her patience and love. We started to build a life together, to make something new out of my absence, to create a stronger relationship than one maintained over the phone. We did it. Moved into our own place while we tried to figure out life. I worked as a contractor down at Port Hueneme, She at a doctor’s office, then the library for a while and then at Pacific Pride foundation. We started to create a life together but you can’t build a house that lasts on a broken foundation.

I would cheat on her. A lapse of moral character maybe… the more I delve into it the more that it was the destruction of my moral character. Things from before, my childhood, my parent’s breakup, the Corps. Mistrust, distrust, and distress. A long road back to where I stand right now and I feel I have only taken my first steps. Maybe it was an inability to love or trust another with my whole heart. It is said that the only life worth living is the examined one. I spent a lot of time examining the wrong things and in doing so lived a wrong life for a time. It is one thing to understand quite another to forgive, for a man must be held accountable for his actions. I often judge people upon their living the kind of life that my brother’s sacrifices are worth. It makes it hard to attend college sometimes. Those are some of the thoughts that sometimes chase my sanity around my mind but then I breathe and I relax. I remember that my homecoming is still happening still unfolding.