How I Screwed Up The Homecoming, Twice
Wearing that adorable outfit you picked out (mine was a little tangerine maternity sundress), make-up expertly applied (remember to skip the mascara or use clear!), you giddily arrive at the airport 15 minutes before the appointed time. You spot him across the room and frantically wave your sign, using every last bit of willpower not to jump over the ropes and into his arms. You've waited a year, or more, you can wait another ten seconds. After what seems like an eternity, he reaches you and scoops you up in his arms and you kiss. Just a chaste little greeting but it is fireworks, just like the first time. You are such the perfect couple, the soldier and his faithful wife, that bystanders cheer and photographer's flashbulbs go off.
Somewhere, a soldier and his wife were having a greeting like that but it sure wasn't me and my husband in Killeen, Texas.
My husband was due home for R&R just a week and a half before my daughter was due. First babies are usually late, right? I didn't want him to have to return to Iraq before meeting his first born. Well, she decided she just couldn't wait and joined us while Daddy was still stuck at Baghdad International Airport. My mother and I had to drive her to San Antonio for a consult with a pediatric cardiologist and we made it back home just in time for a couple of hours of sleep before the phone rang.
Overhearing me trying to explain the directions to the Killeen airport to my mother, my husband simply said, "I'll just grab a cab."
Take two: my second chance.
Three months later, my husband is finally coming home for good. He is a couple of weeks ahead of his unit so he can be there at our daughter's open-heart surgery. So, no big event, no banners, no DJ. Just me and his infant daughter. I dress in artillery red and choose a matching red dress with a patriotic blue star for my daughter. At least I can get the pick-up right this time.
Except, the plane is an hour early. I get the call at the mall while I am picking up his homecoming present, a wooden model of the type of Humvee his platoon used on missions. I rush to the airport as quickly as a new mother with her first baby can safely manage...just in time to see him walk up to the curb.
He walked around to the driver's side.
"No, don't bother getting out of the car." **Kiss** "Just pop the trunk."
But it was a really nice model Humvee.