When you get the call, the official I’m-flying-home-today call, there are no words that could fill the emotion pouring out of your body. Every feeling that a human person has the capacity to feel explodes at once, and you feel it all, right there. Pulsating, under your skin.
The nightmarish deployment is over, and your other-half is on their way home to you. Finally!
You begin making plans of things to do, and prepare, and nervously clean things that are already clean, and realize the dumbassdom has resurfaced and you have no idea what you’re doing, yet, you can’t stop doing it.
You get a prospective time to arrive at the hangar, and you arrive early, even though you know that these things never start early, you can’t bear to imagine your loved one stepping off the plane without you there to receive them.
It feels like hours, where body parts are randomly shaking, and tears fling out of your eyes for no reason other than excitement. And nerves.
You’ve made signs, and clutch them in your sweaty hands until you’re tearing the corners with your grip, because these signs mean so much to you, so much to them.
When the plane comes, there are screams. There are cheers. There is applause and “YES!”‘s and so many people suddenly on their feet waving, yet these planes don’t have windows, but you wave anyway because they are stateside and home and you can’t imagine not waving to them.
They begin to file off the plane, and you rush to get a look, but they are so far away and all look the same, in their caps and uniforms, some are taller than others but overall, you see a mass of green filing off the plane and you wonder, ‘Is that them!?”
Finally, they’ve all deplaned, and stand at attention, all filed nice and neat and pressed yet exhausted but they won’t dare stand any less straight than normal, this is their honor. Standing before you, so handsome and beautiful, you want so desperately to pluck them from their washboard-straight stance and hug them until you can’t breathe, but there’s a Colonel or Admiral talking, who sounds like the Charlie Brown teacher, “Wah wah wahh,” who is only prolonging your embrace, but you know, despite their wanting to reach you, they are so proud for those words.
“Welcome home, soldier.”
There is music, and the National Anthem, and horns and a lot of hoopla, and this official Welcome Home ceremony makes you weak in the knees, both in excitement and agitation, you just want that soldier in your arms, now! And there! There they are! Finally! Before you!
You laugh/cry out loud whenever a baby cries, or a child calls out “DAD!” because you know, That’s how you feel too, pal!
Suddenly.. they’re released from formation. And in almost deafening silence momentarily scares you into an eruption of movement around you, as people lunge towards the soldiers and the soldiers take off their caps with tearful smiles.
There’s hardly any words, because there are just gasps. They’re home. They’re safe. And they’re coming towards you.
And the embrace.. the embrace you’ve longed for, for months and months, is just as sweet and delicate and amazing and passionate as the one you dreamt about every day and night since they boarded the plane to take them into harm’s way and away from you. And you never, ever want to let go, and you don’t. You can’t.
The kids stick like glue to their soldier, and there’s a smudge of a family where individual people once stood. You are stuck together, melted into one big puddle of happiness and THANK GOODNESS DADDY IS HOME AND SAFE.
There are lots of smiles through lots and lots of tears.
Despite how pretty your makeup and hair may have looked, you’ve cried it all off by now. No matter how nicely dressed you may have been, all that matters is that dirty uniform pressed against that nice outfit of yours, and his hat placed on your once-nicely done hair, with his fingers combing through it, sending familiar chills up your spine.
And your child’s hand is in his. And your family in the same room, in breathing proximity, once more.
Welcome home, soldier.
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