For the past several weeks I have been a part-time party planner. My husband is leaving quite soon and we felt that it was important to send him off in style. I know that having a deployment send-off party isn't exactly a universally desired event, but my husband really wanted to have one. He has fond memories (or should I say lack of memories?) of his previous deployment party and it was meaningful to have his friends and family get together before he left. We did not want any old party for this deployment - we wanted to have a PARTY.
I experienced nothing but generosity and support during the planning process. I rented out an American Legion Hall because we were anticipating a large number of people and wanted to have space to socialize. The American Legion gave us the hall for a minimal fee (because of the nature of the event). We hired one of my husband's old high school classmates as a DJ for the event. He gave us a great deal and he was wonderful. For food, I called a local bar and explained that my husband is a firefighter in town and is deploying overseas. The manager dropped the catering menu off at my house, told me not to look at the prices listed, and ended up giving me the most ridiculous discount on food for 125 people. Family and friends supplemented with some pot luck as well.
Even amidst all this generosity, I never expected the email that I received late one evening. Tears filled my eyes as I read that the union and relief association from my husband's fire department wanted to give me a check to help pay for the party.
I was and still am speechless about this. I was able to do so much more with this party than I had ever imagined. During a time when we are feeling particularly strapped financially, I was able to throw a huge event with minimal out of pocket expenses.
The party was absolutely fantastic. There were so many people there and it really warmed my heart. Everyone ate, drank, danced, and socialized. It was exactly what we wanted it to be - a celebration.
I set up a table where guests could write a note to my husband - words of encouragement, jokes, stories, or whatever they wanted to write. I promised not to read them (they are sealed in envelopes) and I will be mailing these to him periodically throughout the year. This was a big hit and I have a stack of notes just waiting to be sent overseas.
I wasn't sure if I would feel sad during the party but I actually didn't. In truth, I felt incredibly and overwhelmingly happy. I felt so grateful for the presence of my family and friends and the love of my husband. I cannot tell you how many times people hugged me, told me that they were there for me, and offered to help me through the year. I swear that every firefighter in attendance instructed me to never hire a plumber, an electrician, or a handyman and to just call the fire station for help with any problem. This made me feel safe and I think it made my husband and my parents feel relieved as well.
I am so blessed.
I've spent the weekend nursing a hangover but it was worth it!
Now I just have to start thinking about the homecoming party ;)