Shortly after my last post, the computer finally informed me that HE was en route. Theoretically leaving our house at the same time that he left Atlanta, we got in the car, fought rush-hour traffic (going in the good direction, but nonetheless, traffic), parked the car in the hourly lot, and herded ourselves into the airport to the nearest arrival screen.

His plane was already here! It was not yet assigned to a gate.

I tried to get in a line to talk to an airline rep, but she announced that this was not a line to talk to her. Talk to the hand, folks.

We went upstairs to ticketing. The line was enormous. People were anxious and frustrated because a HUGE storm was heading this way, and they wanted to escape before getting stuck here. I can sympathize.

I left the kids in line and went over to the board again. A gate had been posted: seventeen. I pulled the kids out of line, and we went in that direction. I talked to the security man, and he told me that to get to the gate, I’d need a gate pass from that really long ticket line. But then he pointed to the hallway where the passengers would all come out, and suggested we just wait there (oh, you mean that spot right there with all those people standing and waiting?).

Checking the board, I saw that the plane was still not at the gate, so we walked just a bit down from that entry hallway to the big windows where, as luck would have it, we could see Gates 15, 17 and 19. There was a plane docked at 19, and another plane approaching. We watched it park – at 15. We waited.

Then Peter had to go to the bathroom, so I hauled everybody about 50 yards to the nearest one. When we got out, the boys who waited outside were hopping around: It’s here!

We got to the hallway and joined the crowd. Passengers were just beginning to stream off. Lots of soldiers. I watched a young Private being greeted by his parents and some teen aged girls: sisters, I assumed. One girl took a picture, and the mom was crying. I was crying.

More people came off. No Bill. The kids started getting antsy. They moved farther and farther into the hallway to try to get that first glimpse. Still no Bill. I started to worry about what would happen if he wasn’t on the flight. I didn’t think I could face my kids’ disappointment. Or mine.

We waited.

Finally, there he was. I saw him before the kids did. Our eyes met, and he smiled.. “He’s coming!” I told the kids who strained hard to see him over all these tall people who didn’t seem to understand that whatever their errand or destination or business was, it was not nearly as important as this business of ours, this reunion, this welcome home.

And then they saw him, and swarmed him. I stayed to the side with Mary, out of the way, watching, crying. Finally, some of the other people noticed our group, and recognized the significance of this soldier’s arrival. “Well, this is a Merry Christmas,” said one woman to my husband.

Mary squirmed in my arms, and I let her down to run to her Daddy. He lifted her and turned to me, wading his way with the weight of clinging, crying children. And then a welcoming kiss.

He’s home. What a marvelous Christmas this is.

I started to take a picture right after we met, but a woman passing by kindly offered to take one of all of us.

It took a while to get his bags, but we made it out to the van, loaded up and then headed for the McDonalds close to where Fritz was to play laser tag. Welcome home, hon, let’s dine in style! But it was getting late. Fritz barely had time to scarf down his food before I walked him over for his 8 pm start time, and it was 830 before we neared home with the snow beginning to fall.

When the little ones were asleep, and the older boy reclining on the sofa waiting for his roommate to return, we were finally alone. Of course, the clothes came off. I put down the Mom hat. Discarded the Strong Woman cloak. Laid aside the shield of Fortitude and the breastplate of Perseverance. Then the many layers of garments: Single Parent, Bill Payer, Sole Decision Maker, Lone Disciplinarian, One Who Never Sleeps, One Who Never Cries, Happy Face, Comforter, Good Fortune Teller.

Eventually I was left with just a few skimpy undergarments: Feminine, Emotional, Sensitive, Vulnerable with a sheer, frilly robe of Wife covering them. What then?

I sobbed.

Many times, I have cried. At the airport, it was joy and relief. Other times, it was worry or exhaustion or frustration peeking out like a too long slip. This, though, was an emotional release. In my husband’s arms, the trial was over. I am no longer alone. I can be strong, or not. I have a choice, whereas only a few hours earlier, I had to be strong no matter what.

He is home. My heart is at peace.

75 thoughts on “Homecoming

  1. Gosh, I was crying halfway through your post. What a relief, the long wait is over. We non-military wives can't even imagine what you brave women go through every day….Merry Christmas!

  2. *sniffle*

    I'm so happy for all of you. I have never sat so close to the edge of my seat while reading your blog! I feel like cheering for you and your whole family that you're reunited again. God bless!!!!

  3. I'm so glad he's home safe and sound. Thank you for all you've been through and for all I'm sure he's been through. And what a great picture, you look so happy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. yay, yay, yay. . . SO SO happy for you! i know a few ladies here who are going to be going it alone through christmas too (year long deployments), i cant even begin to imagine how hard any deployment would be!

    yippy yay! merry christmas.

  5. Woo-hoo! He's home! He's home! So happy for you! Thanks for sharing all this with us, and letting us be a fly on the wall as he returns home. God bless you all!

  6. I'm so happy for you! I've kept your family in my thoughts and in my prayers these past few months!

  7. YAY!!! What a wonderful picture. I am so happy for all of you…and to top it off, you have written a beautiful post….your description of what it feels like to have your beloved home again is spot on. Happy tears for you, Michelle! Enjoy being stuck at home in the blizzard with your family!

  8. YEAH!!!!!! What a wonderful way to start the Christmas season! So happy for you and the family.

  9. Happy tears for you and your family!!! God bless you and God bless him and all of those other yous and hims that are also reuniting but especially the ones that aren't!

  10. I'm so happy that he is home, that you are once again ALL TOGETHER! It's OK to fall apart.
    Thank you, to Bill, to you, to your kids, for all the sacrifices you have made in the service of our country.
    What a GREAT family picture! I hope you get it blown up really big and keep it in your home forever.

  11. So beautifully written, Michelle. Thanks for sharing your beautiful homecoming…Merry Christmas

  12. So beautifully written, Michelle. Thanks for sharing your beautiful homecoming…Merry Christmas

  13. AMEN!!!! You all are home!! AMEN!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

    So glad the wait is over!!!!!!

    Many tears, praise, and prayers for you all! Enjoy this time of reunion!

  14. I'm so happy he's home safe and sound! I appreciate the sacrifices you, your husband and your children have made for our country. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

  15. Well said, Michelle. Welcome home, Bill!

  16. Thank you for sharing your husband's homecoming.

    Merry, merry Christmas!

  17. Thank you all for your sacrifices! I thought of your family late Thursday night as we anxiously awaited the arrival of our son coming home for Christmas exodus from basic training. Another soldier got off the plane before our son and I cried as he and his wife kissed.

    My older daughters and I cried when we finally saw Cory. Our 8 yr old son, went running and leapt into his oldest brother's arms. It was the first time I'd ever seen our 8 yr old cry happy tears, which made me cry even more.

    A very happy Christmas indeed!

    Michelle<~~~retired army wife
    proud army mom

  18. I am just so happy for you, Michelle!

    God bless you during this amazingly wonderful season.

    Rachel, Testosterhome

  19. This is a beautiful post and I am SO happy for all of you!

    God bless you my dear!

  20. May you all have a very Blessed Christmas! I am so incredibly happy for you and immensely grateful for the sacrifices your family has made for this country. Pax Christi

  21. I'm so happy for all of you. Thanks for taking the time to update all of us. I lit a candle this morning at Mass and hoped you didn't need it. Have a great and blessed Christmas!!

  22. SO glad he is home from another military wife whose heart was with yours all day yesterday.

  23. So happy for your whole family!
    You put this into words so very well, I know exactly how you sobbed, that relief, as I've been there myself – more than once, I'm afraid. It never gets any easier…

    I thank your entire family for the sacrifices you've made for all of us. May God richly bless you.

  24. I'm so happy for you and your family, thank you Bill and family for all your sacrifices

  25. I'm so very happy for all of you!

  26. Deo Gratias Deo Gratias Deo Gratias!!! And a very Merry Christmas to you all. I am so happy for you!

  27. Ohhh, Michelle!!!!

    *smiling through tears*


  28. So happy for you all!!!! Merry Christmas!!!!!

  29. So exciting! I feel like I got a Christmas present. And was I the only one who read your metaphor “then the clothes came off” and thought for a moment, wait, she's taking this blog in a whole new direction!? I'm glad you didn't (take the blog in a whole new direction).
    God bless your family this Christmas. Isn't it nice to not have to top such a great gift as Dad's homecoming?

  30. Pretty much a new lurker, but I have to de-lurk for this. Oh thank God you are all together again! I'm so glad for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    And you say it all perfectly and truthfully about a marital reunion after a long separation. I felt the same way when my hubby returned after deployment.


  31. Welcome home! Thank you for your service, and to the wife who keeps the homefires burning! Beautiful picture, wonderful post! Those smiles were probably glued to everyone's faces through the night and into today! God Bless you.

  32. So happy for you all!! Welcome home! Beautiful post and photograph. Merry Christmas, Michelle!

  33. that was beautiful. I'm so glad you got him back in time for Christmas!

    God bless you guys!


  35. A lovely story. Thank you for sharing your joy,


  36. I am so very happy for you — all of you. I feel privileged to have been one of the many warriors who prayed Bill home.

  37. Michelle – you hit the nail right on the head with all those “clothes”!!! So glad he made it home. Just reading about your homecoming made me remember a couple of ours, and picture next year's Christmas!! Enjoy your holiday with EVERYONE in your house!!

  38. I don't read as often as I would like – but wow, oh wow. Had to hold my nose to stop the gush of tears…(new trick I have learned)

    Welcome home Michelle's main squeeze! – God Bless you all – Merriest Christmas, and Thank you ALL for serving our country!!!

  39. Lovely, lovely post–in tears here. Congrats to all of you, thank you to your husband, and a very Merry Christmas to your whole family!

  40. Beautifully written and deeply moving… brushing the happy tears away.

    Most Blessed of Christmases…
    All's grace,

  41. So happy you are all together. Prayers of thanksgiving are raised for prayers answered. Wishing you and your family continued Christmas blessings. Glad he beat the storm!

  42. Coming in here a little late….

    We are so thrilled & relieved that Bill is home. God Bless the woman who took your picture! That's goin up on Dad's desk & my wall at work.

    We are so touched that Bill took time out from his first night at home to call us!

    You write so incredibly well! It did take me a few seconds to catch your metaphor. Thank you so much for sharing your reunion and thank you to all your friends, well-wishers, and prayers who have been “there” with you on this long journey. Both your blog & the comments brought tears to our eyes!

    We eagerly await your visit & we can all hug in person!

    God Bless & and a very, very, Merry Chritmas!

    Love & hugs to all.

  43. Cheering from our corner of the world, and many happy prayers of thanksgiving that you're all back together. I'm so, so glad for all of you!

  44. Deo gratias.

    Welcome home, Bill.

    Merry Christmas, Michelle.

  45. I'm so very happy for you, your children and your hubby! I was in tears reading your post, as well. Tears of joy for you and yes, of relief. God Bless you!

  46. Thank you so much for the sacrifices your family has made for all of us Americans. You are ALL heroes!
    Praise God for your hubby's safe return…just in time for Christmas.
    Oh, how perfect!
    God bless you all.

  47. Merry Christmas!! What a wonderful gift, and you tell the story so well.

    So happy for you all!

  48. Mele Kalikimaka!
    Welcome home, Bill.
    Merry Christmas and many blessings to you all.

  49. Yay! Merry Christmas!

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