First off, a thank you to G.I. Joe’s wife for letting me scribble on her blog today!
I was thinking back to a Christmas two years ago, and I got a little misty-eyed. It wasn’t a typical Christmas for our family, but it was one of the most special.
My brother Andy was in Afghanistan, and he was due to come home on R and R around the holiday. I insisted my dad go out with me and pick out a good Christmas tree, a tradition that had been passed up the past couple of years before. I wanted to be sure Andy got the full experience. We decorated the tree with all the old family ornaments and lots of tinsel. I dug out our family stockings just to annoy him- he always complained about the silly, cheesy gifts and candy I’d put in them, and that year would be no different. Life crawled by slowly while we waited for his leave.
But just a handful of days before Andy was scheduled to return, his daughter was born. We emailed him labor updates every couple of hours, and took a million pictures to send to him once she arrived. I sat in the hospital room marveling at her sweet face, and thinking how strange it was that I held her before he could. I knew he was all the more impatient to be home.
His roommate, a guy named Sky, had been chatting with me on online sometimes. I remember being so excited when he told me to take care of his roomie- Andy was finally on a plane! There was a huge snowstorm the day he got into the US, but he got home right on schedule anyway. My dad and I stood in the quiet terminal waiting for the last plane to land. His girlfriend and her family sat nearby. I was holding his week-old daughter. We were all staring out the windows, straining for the first sound or sight of a plane.
Suddenly, people were disembarking. He was the last off the plane. I saw him round the corner in his ACUs and my heart jumped. He walked up and shook my dad’s hand, hugged his girlfriend, and then, he met his baby girl. He looked fascinated with her, and completely in love. Cue the tears!
We spent the rest of his leave baking cookies and tying sleds behind the car for a bumpy ride. He rolled his eyes over the stocking I gave him, and made fun of everything in it like I had hoped he would. It meant so much to know that, at least for those two weeks at Christmas, he was safe and sound at home. I felt a little sorry for Sky and all the other soldiers who were still overseas without their families. It was the hardest thing to say goodbye to him again- maybe harder than when he first left- but they were some of the greatest days our family had.
Six months later, he came home for good, and life returned back to normal. His daughter instantly loved him, and it was like he was never gone. Oh, and Sky, that roommate of his? Less than a year later, that boy became my husband.
There isn’t much more memorable than that.
Thanks, again Erika! Back tomorrow with another great guest blogger!