Welcome to summer tearfest 2011, otherwise known as the newest TLC series, Surprise Homecoming. As an Army girlfriend, I knew watching the new series, hosted by Billy Ray Cyrus, was going to be a tad emotional -- rekindling memories from our own homecoming experience at the end of last year. FYI: It was worse than I expected, in a good way, of course.
After watching three fantastic surprise homecomings tonight, I not only ran out of tissues -- but I already set my DVR for next Monday night. Contrary to what I expected, this show isn't about Billy Ray Cyrus trying to make a comeback. It's about giving back to the families and loved ones who fight the good fight at home, just as their loved ones fight on the front lines overseas.
Take a look at these 10 emotional excerpts from tonight's show that are sure to leave you teary-eyed and wanting more:
On dealing with loved ones being away ...
"I try to be strong for [my daughter]. When I first heard that she was gonna go to Afghanistan, my heart failed. I felt sick. When I got to talk to her on the phone, I could feel this something. I would ask, 'What's the matter? Is everything okay?' and she would say yes ... but I knew that it wasn't. I had a strong belief that they would be home soon." -- Estine Ryan, mother to Sgt. Ingrid Ryan who surprised her mother at work after a year-long deployment in Afghanistan.
"Having both children in a war zone is just devastating. To go on, to go to work ... I don't know what's going on over there. What is happening? Are they being bombed? My heart just breaks just not knowing. It takes all my strength some days. I can't wait to see them." -- Kathy Kerins, mother to two Army sons, Kyle and Aaron, who joined together for the first time in two years to surprise her at work.
"Not having [my husband] around during the pregnancy was hard. I got really sick and that's when not having my spouse around was the hardest." -- Erica Bentley, wife to Staff Sgt. Jonathan Bentley, who recently returned from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan during which time his first son was born.
On being away from home ...
"I try not to call my mom and tell her too much because I don't want her to worry, but some things just get to the point where I need to talk to my mom." -- Sgt. Ingrid Ryan
"The hardest part of being away from your family is that you don't understand how much stuff goes on in a year until you miss it all." -- Staff Sgt. Jonathan Bentley
On being reunited ...
"It wasn't like talking to them on the phone. I knew they were safe, and they were back home." -- Kathy Kerins
"It was just like an angel walked through the door. The minute I saw my daughter turn the corner, my heart just filled with joy." -- Estine Ryan
"Having my boys home is just everything to me. I wouldn't know what to do without either one of them." -- Kathy Kerins
"Life isn't about having possessions. All these things that we have, they don't really make us happy. But memories, good memories, are things that you can take with you forever. I like having good memories, and I'm glad that this one turned into a great one." -- Staff Sgt. Jonathan Bentley
"To see my family and my son and my husband together again, it fills this void in my heart. The two most important men in my life are together again, and it's just an amazing feeling." -- Erica Bentley
Did you watch tonight's episode of Surprise Homecoming? Were you as big a crybaby as me?
Image via TLC