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I spent the entire drive to the naval station in Norfolk, Virginia, bawling my eyes out. It was July 28, 2010, and my fiancé, Joe -- we got married last summer -- was returning home from another deployment. I was such a bundle of emotions that I couldn't help but cry. The last few weeks of Joe's deployments are always the worst. The anticipation of knowing that he'll soon be back is absolute murder! I tried to distract myself during that time by frantically doing all the yard work I'd avoided during the seven months he'd been gone. I prefer indoor home-improvement projects -- it's what I do to cope and keep busy while Joe is at sea. I joke that every time he deploys, a room in our house gets redone. That year he came home to a new sun porch.
My other form of distraction -- sewing the vintage-style dress I wore for his return -- was much more fun. I make one for every homecoming. When you haven't seen your guy for such a long time, you want to do something really special to look your best. But I also love the ritual of it: Shopping for patterns and choosing fabric signify that the two of us will be together again soon.
I still had plenty of waiting to do when Joe's ship came in on that hot July day. He was one of the last people to deboard so I stood on the pier for four hours, scanning the hundreds of hugging, crying, and cheering people around me. Then I finally spotted him -- and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. In that instant the anxiety of the last few weeks vanished. The only thought in my head was: Run. I couldn't get into his arms fast enough.