Tuesday, August 18, 2009

R&R Baby!

We've been counting the months, the weeks, the days and the hours and finally, R&R has arrived!

It wasn't easy though.

Soldiers do not just get on a plane and fly home for a two week vacation. They have to take a series of flights because they are coming from so far away and in some areas there are no operating airlines. They must rely on military aircraft part of the way.

For security purposes, they are not told their flight schedule until the last possible minute. We had a rough idea of when he might be arriving, but nothing specific. And by "rough idea" I don't mean we weren't sure if he was arriving at 3:00 or 4:00. I mean we had a five day window in which we knew he should probably arrive.

The first setback came when he called to say his first flight was cancelled. Not delayed. Cancelled. He was still at his home base and had to go on into work since he was there anyway.

Then, hallelujah, he called a day later to say he was on his way and he knew exactly when he would be arriving! He had exact flight times, and we were ready to roll! And not only did we know when he would be arriving here, he was also going to have a long layover at an airport near his family! The plan was for him to call them when he arrived, and some of his relatives would head to the airport to spend a few hours with him.

Then........

We didn't hear from him again. Three days went by with no word from Kerry. Not a peep. His flight into the airport near his family came and went and no one heard from him. I started making frantic phone calls trying to find out where he was. I knew if he'd made it to the airport near his family he would have called them - and me. No one I spoke to knew anything of his whereabouts.

I warned the kids that there was every possibility that he had gotten hung up somewhere and hadn't even made it to the United States. I didn't want them to be standing at the airport holding up the "Welcome Home" signs we had made and waiting.....and waiting.....and waiting..... Still, hope springs eternal, and we headed off to the airport at the time he had initially planned to be here just in case. On the way to the airport, I became convinced that he would be there despite evidence to the contrary and the excitement began to build.

At the airport, I explained to an airline agent that we didn't know if Kerry had made the flight and that I absolutely did not want to stand there with our signs and have him not get off that plane. The agent very quickly checked, and then quietly informed me that Kerry was not on the flight. He was listed as a "no-show".

Oh, that was a crushing moment. I told the kids, and we slumped out of the airport back to the car. Katie and I were both trying not to cry. I told the kids that the only thing we could do was go back home and wait to hear from him. Surely he would contact us soon and let us know where he was.

The drop from hopeful excitement to crushing disappointment left us all starving, and we stopped at a Wendy's to get something to eat and pull ourselves together.

As we sat down at a table with our food I wailed, "I wish he would call right now and tell us he really is here after all!"

My cell phone rang.

Ben said, "I'll bet that's him!"

I snatched it up and answered it to hear Kerry say, "Where are you? I'm here at the airport!"

"They told me you missed your flight!" I shrieked as the kids and I snatched our food off the table and ran out the door with it.

We flew (well, drove very fast) back to the airport, skidded into a parking place, and piled out of the car like it was on fire. We ran down a moving escalator, across a street, and ran up another escalator to get to the pick up area.

When Kerry returned from deployment five years ago, I had intended to let the kids run to him first, ahead of me. I wanted to stay back a step where I could see them get to him and hug him. But when I saw him coming towards us through the crowd that time, all thoughts of letting the kids hug him first flew out of my head and I took off toward him, leaving them in the dust.

This time, I wanted to make sure they got to him first. It was the number one thought in my head as we ran toward the building where he was.

And then.....I saw him. And I launched myself toward him like there was no one else with me. I'm not proud to say that I once again left the kids in the dust with no thought except to get to him. Granted, they are really fast now and thudded into him only a second after I did.

I had a ton of questions running through my head - "Where were you?" "Why didn't you call during your layover?" "Why did they say you missed your flight?" But for the moment, nothing else matters except:

He is home.


He is home.

He is home.

4 comments:

  1. Well, I am sitting here reading this with my morning coffee and bawling my eyes out. I am so glad your family is home.... to see that joy you all have on your faces and know what a price you have all paid so that we can me free is beyond words.... thank you.

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  2. Even tho I knew the story..........I cried. GG

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