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The airport was a very dull, paling gray. There was way too much light streaming in through the wall-to-ceiling windows and too much chatter in the waiting area.
“I need a gate pass, please. We just want to go to back to the terminal and watch him get off the plane.”
“Ma’am, I’m going to need to see your driver’s license and your military ID because we don’t let people back to wait in the terminal’s.”
I handed over both of the requested cards, tapping my foot impatiently and switching Noah from one hip to another. His aqua blue and yellow fuzzy blanket was clutched between his forefinger and his thumb as he chewed on his hand…always chewing on something, that boy.
I checked my watch. The plane wasn’t supposed to touch the ground until 9:30, so we had a few minutes. The reunion would be perfect. He was going to step off the plane, and I was going to let Noah just run into his arms. Like something out of a movie. It’d been four months since we’d seen one another; since he’d held his son; and after the next two weeks we over, it would be another five before he had a chance to do it again.
That’s the life we chose; but it definitely wasn’t easy.
“Here you go, ma’am. Have a nice day.”
Up the escalator we went. I’d left my purse and Noah’s diaper bag in the car. The only thing on me was a set of car keys, a cell phone, and my ID cards. We had just enough time to make it through security and get back to the terminal. This was a small airport. No more than 100 people were inside, including the workers.
Ring, Ring. Ring, Ring.
Who could be calling me now? I have to get through this security clearance.
“Hello?” I answer…recognizing the number on the caller ID.
“We’re on the runway. Are you here?”
"My heart sank. Not enough time. I want this to be perfect. I want my movie scene reunion. It’s been so long…
“We’re coming. Going through security now. Just wait for us.”
But we didn’t get straight through security. The poor lady in front of us had everything in her bag that she wasn’t supposed to have. Her carry on was overflowing with Prune Juice, Cranberry Juice, and full Shampoo bottles. 9:31. We weren’t going to make it.
Kick off our shoes, empty our pockets, through the scanner and out the other side.
Make a run toward the gate. People are filing out slowly. Where is he? Noah is itching to get down and run. I’d had hold of him for almost 45 minutes and being still just isn’t in his list of know how.
Ring, Ring. Ring, Ring.
“Where are you? I didn’t see you guys…I’m out here at baggage claim.”
We’d missed it. He was already off the plane. Waiting in another area of the airport. I was dripping sweat and my arms hurt. All I’d wanted was to give him a proper welcome home. And now we’d missed it.
“We’ll be there in a minute.”
Back out the gate we went. We shuffled along with the rest of the airplane passengers who’d already been greeted by their families. Other soldiers hugging their children and kissing their wives. I kept my head down. It seemed stupid. At least he was home. Why was I so upset because I didn’t get my on screen reunion? I didn’t know.
The doors opened. I could see him. And Noah could see him too. In one swift movement, Noah leapt out of my arms and onto the floor…running as fast as little 20 month old legs would let him.
“Da-da! Da-da!” he wailed.
His daddy turned in time to see him running and squatted to his level. Noah jumped into his daddy’s arms and gave him the strongest bear hug he could conjure up. His daddy was home. Maybe he’d have to leave again in 14 short days; and our countdown until the goodbye had already started. But for now, this is what we would savor. The reunion. Straight out of a movie.
I’m participating today in the Red Dress Club’s Red Writing Hood and our theme was to write about 5 minutes of our lives that we would like our child(ren) to see after we had passed away. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and while I could have gone on to describe how the husband proposed to me or the moments before my wedding or something equally as important, this memory stood out. This was our first real separation and was the first time my husband had been away from his little boy since he’d been born. And I can still close my eyes and see Noah running into his daddy’s arms. I cried, of course. And it’s one of my most cherished memories.