Welcome Home

May 21st, 2007

I peek at my daughter while she’s sleeping, just like I did when she was a child, and my heart, not knowing the difference between one decade or the next, softens and expands all the same. My child is home, she’s sleeping, and my home is once again happily littered with clothes and bags, pictures and gadgets. This time, though, I have no urge to pick anything up or put it away. The mess is a tender comfort, and the child is a grown woman, a brave, spirited, and compassionate soldier who has returned home safely.

There are over 6,000 parents who weren’t able to know this feeling of joy and relief. Spouses and children who had their lives forever changed by the loss of a partner, a father, a mother. There’s no rhyme or reason to the losses — no informed choice of death or survival — it’s almost all just stupid luck and circumstance.

I have been lucky not once, but twice. There’s some ominous feeling about that, as if good fortune has been stretched to the limit and might snap back into disaster if one more chance is taken. There are feelings of guilt and pride, sadness and relief. I have done nothing to warrant the good fortune bestowed upon my family, but I am overjoyed that it was granted. So many did not make it home, and when I look at my daughter, I can’t help but also see their faces, one after the next, as I recall them from the nightly news.

She’s sleeping, though, and there are so many things to do. A whole future that I am blessed to help plan and be a part of — a first home to buy, a first set of furniture — all the firsts that come with being a fully grown woman. It’s still hard for me to realize — not so much that she’s grown — but that I am the mother of an adult. 

I was a young mother, but I can’t say we grew up together. Even at nineteen, I was a few years into my own adulthood. What I can say is that she has consistently made my soul feel younger than either my experience then, or my years now.

We share DNA and a certain spirit of fortitude, but she’s my opposite in so many ways. An extrovert to my introvert. The physical to my cerebral. If there’s a social event, she will walk away with a new handful of friends — I will spend the briefest amount of time shaking hands before stealing out of the nearest exit. She loves malls, crowds, and big events. If I could afford it, I’d be voluntarily agoraphobic. She likes to run, and I prefer a slow walk — late in the evening when everyone else has gone to bed. She loves photography — I’ve never owned a camera.

She is quintessentially feminine.  Her makeup fills up an entire drawer, and her clothes and shoes overflow from the closet. I have three cosmetics and use most of my closet to store excess books and papers.

Yet, there’s never been a person I’ve gotten along with better. She can make me laugh even in the least laughable circumstance, and I can persuade her to temper her enthusiastic impulsiveness once in awhile. She understands my nature and fully accepts it, even while trying to convince me that sweating it out in a 105 degree yoga class is really quite a bit of fun. I just love that tenacity, and the drive she has to share all of her passions with me. It makes me feel like a best friend. Like a mom.

I am so lucky to hear that word in person again. I’m even a tad bit tempted to wake her just to hear her say it. But there’s a whole day ahead that starts in just a few hours. A belated Mother’s Day gift, lasting the entire day, that she has insisted I’m due. It starts with a crowded yoga class at 9:00 a.m., includes facials, manicures, and hair styles, but there’s a massage sometime in the early evening– before we go have our pictures taken.

I can hardly wait.

34 Responses to “Welcome Home”

  • Jane: I can’t pretend to know how you felt when your daughter was in Iraq, the worse thing I’ve had to endure was when my daughter was to old to move with us to a different province. When that happened I had to keep reminding my self that I was a mother when I was her age. That didn’t work then, and fifteen years later still the same. When I was talking to my mother last week she said she doesn’t feel old enough to have a daughter pushing 60, and I said I didn’t feel old enough to have a daughter pushing 40. When I don’t feel well, I still want to climb in bed , I would say Mom very softly and she would lift the covers, she didn’t shoo me away once. My daughter has had a health problem since she was very young. I would hold her in bed with out moving until I thought my body would never move again. I don’t know how you have restrained yourself, I’m sure I would be in bed with her. I believe very strongly about the healing power of a mother’s embrace, no words have to be exchanged unless someone chooses to. Some times when I fall into a dark place I wish my lived closer, so I could be a little girl again. I know my Mom would lift the covers and let me in, and my Mom would make the darkness go away. I suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. I don’t know how you make the bigger bobo’s go away, as long as your daughter knows you are there to lift the covers for her. You are going to have fun looking at houses, it’s always fun to whisper about the funny things, or awful things.or beautiful things. When I had to house hunt I brought along a notebook. to draw layouts, make notes on the good and the bad (to use as a bargaining tool. But the best thing to have is a camera, to take hundreds of pictures. That way you can look at them when your home , you can plan furniture layouts, drapes, where to plant a flower bed. Then tomorrow you can start it all over again, that is the fun things, the best thing is doing it with your daughter. God bless you both, and Thank you God for bringing your daughter home. Lynda.

  • Thank you Jane - for the beautiful story and for you’re daughter. Thank you God for bringing her home safely.

  • Dear Jane and Dear Daughter,
    Your story is the first thing I happened to read this hazy morning in FL, USA, and I am all teary eyed yet so happy for your both. Enjoy your time together.
    May God give you both long life, luck, love and laughter, always.

  • Jane,
    what a sweet,sweet story. i’m so glad your dd made it home safe and sound. blessings go out to you and her for all the time and all the heartache you both went though to protect our country. i have two dd’s and don’t know how i would deal in your shoes or any mother’s shoes that have a child over there. i do know the life, as my hubby was a sarg in the army. women who are in the army and the wives and parents of a soldier have tears of steal. and i hope all the best for your dd now and i hope you never get over that feeling of the softness in your heart seeing her face. jane, god bless you and may you always be strong.

  • Jane,
    What a beautiful story. Thank God for your daughter’s safe return. It hasn’t been luck at all happening in your life. They have been blessings. I feel that blessings will continue to pour out over your life. Now is the time to leap for joy, reminding yourself that God has given you many blessings, the unfailing miracles of his love, his peace and his promise that he will always be with you.

  • I am so excited for both you and your daughter. My husband has been over for a tour in Afghanistan. His homecoming was great. It was hard being a single mother of 2 and being pregnant. However I can’t imagine being a mother going through all of it. There is a difference between a mother and a wife as you now know. I wish you both the best! Please thank your daughter for serving our country, and THANK YOU for supporting her and the troops!

  • Dear Jane and Daughter, Thank you for your sacrifice. May God Bless you and watch over you all the rest of you days.

  • What a satisfying moment for you to see your daughter again on safe secure ground. I don’t think we put enough appreciation for the military for their sacrifice to better secure our grounds. It must have been hard to know she was in harm’s way but in some way a comfort to know she was watched over.

  • god has smiled upon your world, and i am very happy for you and your daughter. may you have a great life to rember when you reach 100

  • Jane,
    Your writing never fails to reach out across time and space and touch my heart. It always seems to beckon me into a conversation with God. Sometimes that conversation is a brief one such as Thank you Lord for Jane’s talent and wisdom, or Bless her Lord. At other times that conversation can become quite lengthy. This morning’s conversation was peppered with tears of sadness for all the families who have lost a loved one in the war, tears of joy for you both on your daughter’s homecoming, and tears of thanksgiving for a reminder of all the joyful little mother/daughter ways that my daughter and I share with you and your daughter.
    Thank you Jane for the way you have of helping us see life. Thank you Jane’s daughter for protecting these lives with your own.

  • Jane, Well written. I am so happy for you that your baby is home. My aunt was not so lucky. Last May 2006 my cousin a Marines was killed in Iraq while leading he troops in Town. He gave his life to save his troops. I named my puppies after them “Bixler”. He will live on with us forever!..

    Congrats to you and enjoy the time you have together. (At least for now, because soon I will turn on you for no reason and help tell a pack of lies on my own blog. I can’t help myself. That’s why Nuttie is part of my name!! God, I’m cute!)

  • Jane,

    What a beautiful tender love story about the unconditional love between a mother and her daughter. God has truly blessed your family.

    The word family represents many people; however, there is another word that represents just one person, who is the quintessence the epitome of the family: mother. It’s true that only a mother can love unconditionally.

    Thank you Jane - for the beautiful story and for you’re daughter. Thank you God for bringing her home safely.

  • Logical,

  • Jane,

    What a beautiful, moving piece. Thanks for sharing this joyous occasion with us.

    As a mother, I can empathize with what you must have endured. I offer my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice.

    Thank your daughter for her selfless service to our country.

    Enjoy your time together and God bless you!



  • Hello Jane and Daughter. I’m so happy that you are blessed with a wonderful relationship. I have two daughters and am lucky enough to have the same with my girls.
    I have not had to deal with their lives being in danger. It’s hard to imagine what you Jane and the other parents must have went through as you began each day with a thought and a prayer for your precious daughter.

    She is home now and I hope and pray that the other parents that are anxiously waiting for their children to come home do not have to know the pain of never seeing their children again.

    Enjoy your special day together!

  • Jane,
    Once again, I can rest easy…knowing that there is some really good news in this world of ours. I can relate to this new article, thank you so much!
    I know all about that ‘litter,’ and the tender comfort in having a mess.
    Thank you and your daughter for protecting us.

  • Dear Jane,
    I truly enjoy reading your articles and would like to read more about your daughter and learn more about Iraq.
    So, once you get her settled down in her new home, and you have some time to yourself, write.
    Write for us, dear Jane.

    Or, if in the future you cannot maintain this site, email me with your insight.
    I love reading your writings, and I would appreciate hearing from you.

  • Jane, Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with all of us. You seem like a great Mom! I am glad that your daughter is home safe and sound in her mother’s loving arms. God Bless you both for the sacrifices you made for our country.

  • Jane,

    I know I don’t need to tell you to Enjoy every second of everyday.
    The time just seems to fly by when a loved one is near. I”m very
    thankful your daughter is back home and saddened that she had to
    endure the sights and sounds of tragedy. She is very brave and I
    am thankful for her courage. Stay safe from harm.
    Jane thank you for doing what you do so very well……writing and sharing.

  • Jane, I am so happy for you that your daughter is back home with you safe and sound.

    Adult daughter’s are such a blessing aren’t they? I have two young single adult daughters who are each building their careers in two separate cities, far away from the family home and town where they grew up. I worry about them constantly and we keep in touch with each other on a near daily basis either via msn, email or the phone.

    I could never imagine being able to deal emotionally if either one of my daughters’ were a soldier fighting for their country in Iraq. I imagine that your writing helped keep you sane all of the months that your daughter was away working in harm’s way on a daily basis.

    Your daughter must be so proud of you, her talented, compassion and caring mother. You are both so blessed to have each other. Best wishes to the two of you.

  • Jane, you have a wonderful daughter, and you are very fortunate.

  • Thank you all so much for sharing my joy. . .offering your words of support. . .and sharing you stories about loved ones lost to the war. This is a wonderful community to be a part of — and I count myself doubly blessed.

    It has been wonderful having my baby home, even if my quiet life has been turned somewhat upside down, and neither the doorbell nor the phone has quit ringing. It’s a happy price to pay — and temporary. The househunt is already under way. :-)

    I’ll have a new article up tonight, and a series of articles are on the immediate horizon.


  • Jane

    What a wonderful article.. You really touched my heart.
    When my daughter graduated from college she gave me a card with pages written with her heart.. ” I might be proud of her, but she owes everything that she has ever done to me”.. and a lot of thanks for raising her with the proper values in life and teaching her how to be a functional human being.. That was 15yrs ago and she is VERY successful and I am VERY proud to be her mom..

    I can just see you sitting and watching her sleep.. ENJOY every minute.

    God Bless both of you.

  • My little son/man spends the afternoon with a lovingsitter. I have the luxury of working from home so I am generally here to greet him when he returns. He’s 16 months old and has latched onto the idea of bringing me something when he returns…a pebble, a flower, a leaf, (nice) and occasionally litter (not-so-nice). Either way, for him, the gesture is generous and it speaks of giving and he returns home expecting me there to recieve him (and his gifts). Last week, when he came home, I was on a long-distance call and I didn’t respond to his initial “Mamma” call. “mmmmammma”…”mmaammmma” a few times and then - sputters. Sputter, sputter, sputter. I got off the phone and went out to greet him and still sitting in his stroller, he pointed to the floor where he had dropped a leaf. “NONONONO! Mammma NO!” I picked it up and said thank you. “NONONO” he said. I gave him the leaf thinking he would give it to me again - Instead he threw it to the floor and said a final “NO”! We’ve made up. And what I am recounting is surely going to be forgotten and insignificant to both he and I….But unquestionably, I believe that if enough “NONONO” moments build up - one’s life can surely be affected! (Mine was.)

    He came home today with a seashell for me. I was there. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

  • If the book sales is not going well, this trip to the gravesite should help her.

  • Jane, you talking about your daughter brought tears to my eyes. I, too am the mother of daughters. I have two. So many speak of the bond between a mother and a son but you spoke of the bond between a mother and a daughter. I fully, understood it. One of mine is in the entertainmemt field and travels extensively and it breaks my heart every time she leaves. I can only imagine the heartbreak you had to feel when your daughter left. I’m glad she is safely home.
    Please tell your daughter how very proud we all are of her and the men and women who stood beside her.

  • Jane,

    I’m so happy your daughter has returned home safely. I hope she will not ever have to go back there again. I was away for a few days and just now came in here to read your latest articles.

    As the mother of three grown sons, I don’t know what it’s like to have a daughter to do things with. I love my sons dearly, but I do think that a mother and daughter can be so much closer.

    My sons and their father have a totally different outlook on just about everything, than I do. I always feel totally outnumbered when we all get together, which isn’t more than a couple times a year, since two of them live in other states. It was the same way when they were all still here at home, once they got older.

    When I would go shopping, I spent most of my time in the boys and mens department and rarely in the women’s. There are so many things for a mother and daughter to do together, and shopping is one of them.

    I longed for a daughter so much, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. It would be so nice to have a girl in the family to understand a woman’s point of view.

    I do have to laugh when I think of the times when I bought something for myself and didn’t have a daughter to show it to, so I would show my new article of clothing to my sons, lol. I’m sure they weren’t as enthused as I was, but I just had to show someone what I bought lol. They would be polite and say ” yes, that’s nice” lol.

    I hope you can enjoy all the things a mother and daughter can do together. I have a husband and three sons, but,sadly feel so terribly alone. I’m so glad to have found your and QV’s site and all the people that post on both sites and I really enjoy all your articles. I think you are a wonderful writer.

    .Enjoy your time with her as I’m sure you will. Have fun!

    Joan S.

  • Hello All!
    Thank you so much for your support and kind words =) I am very glad to be back home! Its been nearly one week since I’ve been back in the states, and although a bit overwhelming, adjusting to it all has been wonderful. I am very lucky to have such a supportive Mom, friends and family. This last week has flown by as I fill my days with house hunting, spa days, shopping, yoga and some more shopping! I wonder how long this free pass with my explosive bags will last in my Mom’s cute house? (Sorry Mom!) I’m enjoying my leave time and am looking forward to going back to work soon.

    Again, thank you all for supporting all of our troops. Words and letters of support reach us overseas and mean the world to everyone. I can tell you from working with our coalition partners that there is no other country in this world that gives their soldiers the same sort of support and love like the United States.

    Happy Readings All!
    ~Jane’s Daughter

  • Dear Jane,
    You must be so proud!

    Dear Jane’s Daughter,
    You make us proud…Hope you’re not just home on leave…hope you’re home to stay.

    Dear Jane,
    Daniel was such a sweet, shy boy….and not much has ever been explored, about that baby boy. You know, Anna Nicole’s son, the one that died at 20 year old. No one remembers him and know one knew him. He was was so, sweet and so, shy, and I wonder why.

    Thank you for sharing your family photographs.

  • I’m starting not to ‘like’ Anna, as if I ever did.

    And why do I idealize Howar K. Stern?

    I don’t, and I’ve come back down to earth.

    But what the ‘Media’ did was wrong, and on that, I stand firm.

  • Jane .. I was just stopping by again to see what was new and lo and behold there were pics of you and your daughter. Two sides of the same coin. You are both so very beautiful and what’s more, the bright light from inside comes shining through. Thank you both for all you have given.. for us.

    May you both be blest abundantly

  • Jane,
    My little brother’s filling out applications to ‘go over there.’
    He doesn’t know what he has, right here.
    He’s the youngest of my family, and ‘out of all of us’ he was the least likely to succeed.
    All to guard ‘oil fields,’ and it so worries me.

    So glad your daughter is safe here at home.

  • Freida,

    My brother-in-law is currently serving a one year tour in Iraq. Two of his comrades were killed last week. They were weeks away from returning home to their families.