A week before the trip he called and sounded happy, he said, "I have some good news for you....". They were going to be given more time off than we had been told, which meant we would get to spend more time together.
I rushed home very excited after dropping the kids off to school and worked on changing all the reservations I had already made.
I changed my flight departure day with so much excitement I could barely stand it. I know going from two and a half days to four days and an evening may not seem like a big difference, but it was to us.
I couldn't wait to board the plane and be on my way to see my husband once again.
I counted down the days on a calendar I had made....
Finally the day I was to fly out had arrived. I spent the morning packing the rest of the things I needed.
Jerome was going to be in Dari language class and cultural training all day and wasn't supposed to get out of class until late that night and then take a long drive to the airport if he was going to be able to meet me.
My flight was to land in Alexandria, LA at 9:30pm that night. All along he kept telling me that he didn't think he was going to be able to be at the airport in time and that we would probably meet at the hotel.
But, but.....I know how Jerome is with surprises and I KNOW that if it were at all possible he would make it to the airport.
The entire flight Kourtney (Noah's girlfriend who was also flying down)and I both kept talking about getting to the airport in Louisiana and wondering if our men would be waiting for us there.
We had a 3 hour layover in Atlanta. We walked through the airport and each man we saw in uniform made us both even more excited to get on the next flight out. We weren't the only women flying down to see our men. There were several women and there were also several men in uniform and you could just feel the anticipation.
Finally our plane landed safely in Alexandria and as I was waiting for my tagged carry on, Noah texted Kourtney and told her that they had made it to the airport.
We both walked out of that long corridor from the airplane to the lobby both knowing that our men would be right there waiting.
We stepped out and Jerome and Noah were nowhere to be found.
I kept looking around with my eyes....thinking that surely he was there. I couldn't see him anywhere. So I made my way from the second floor to the tall escalator to go to the baggage claim area.
I was standing patiently on the escalator looking all around trying to find my husband on the floor below....I didn't see him. I kept looking but he was nowhere to be seen.....
Then as my wondering eyes were looking all around for him.....I felt his hand on my hand.
He had hidden by the escalator to surprise me and only he could reach as high as he did to place his hand on mine to surprise me. He smiled at me as I turned my head to see him....and I just wanted to jump off the escalator to hurry up and be in his arms.
Being together again was a feeling I can't even begin to describe.
It felt like home being in his arms again.
We had a wonderful weekend together.
One of the days I was there we drove to the base and he showed me around. Where he slept, where he ate at, where he marched and did pt and so on....
We went to the movies.
We went to dinner every evening.
We staid up late.
And we slept in every morning.
We spent every minute together and we enjoyed it.
All weekend long anytime that I would start being upset about having to leave him again, he would look at me, hold my face in his hands and say, "No crying allowed...not yet".
Monday was there before we knew it.
I was sad about having to say goodbye again but thankful for each and every minute we were given to spend together.
Monday night came quickly and it was time to drop him off at the base. I drove so that I would know my way back. He turned our song on on my ipod and started singing along to it. I smiled but wanted to cry. I didn't want to leave him again but knew I had to.
We talked a lot on that long drive to the base. We laughed together and sang together. And we planned another trip so that our kids would be able to see him one last time before he leaves. I would love to fly the four of us down there but that is impossible so I will be braving it and driving hours upon hours to be where he is again.
I used to drive to Camp Lejeune every other weekend when he was on medical hold after his last deployment. It would take us fourteen hours to get there. So I keep telling myself...whats a few hours more? I think it will be a fairly easy drive and our kids are all so excited about getting to see him again.
I am glad they are excited about it, because at first they didn't want to go because they didn't want to have to say goodbye again. I can't say I blame them....it is very hard to do.
Kissing him goodbye again was hard. I wasn't sure at that time if I was brave enough to drive me and the kids down so I wasn't sure if this was our goodbye before he leaves to go over there.....but I kept telling myself that it wasn't the last time. That way I could kiss him and not cry. I could be strong and smile back at him instead of crying when we say goodbye.
I kept telling myself the long drive back that I would see him again. Kourtney rode back with me to Alexandria and we talked to whole trip back.
I couldn't sleep in that empty hotel room very well that night.
The next morning I allowed enough time to get ready and leave for the airport....no time for being sad.
It wasn't until I checked my bags in at the airport, made it through security and sat down and waited for boarding to start that it hit me.
Kourtney was talking about her and Noah. I noticed an older couple sitting across from us....I think she had overheard Kourtney talking about missing Noah. She looked at my necklace that Jerome had given me before this deployment and I know saw his wedding ring hanging on the necklace too. She looked at me and smiled a smile like she knew we were sad about having to leave our men behind. I smiled back at her and looked away out the window because I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. All the noise and commotion seemed to disappear around me and all I could think about was Jerome. I missed him so much already.
I boarded the plane and thought that I was going to get a row of seats to myself. But a few minutes later two soldiers made their way back through the aisle and one of them sat beside me, the other in front of me. The man sitting beside me was wearing the same army green uniform my husband is wearing now. I couldn't stand to see it because I was missing Jerome so bad so I layed my head back and closed my eyes and tried to not look at that uniform the rest of the flight to Atlanta.
111. the anticipation of counting down the days to see my husband again
112. the sound of the wheels on my suitcase rolling through the airport
113. landing safely
114. the feel of his hand touching mine, surprising me to where he is standing
115. his smile and the way he looks at me
116. the way his arms feel like home
117. the warmth of his kiss
118. hearing his voice in person, not just through the phone or skype
119. the way my heart skips a beat seeing him in uniform
120. having dinner together again
121. watching a sappy, romantic movie together...even though I know he'd rather be watching an action movie
122. holding his hand while he drives
123. talking about our future together
124. a pillow fight
125. driving around town, going nowhere, but just enjoying being together
126. watching him enjoy a good dinner, knowing he enjoys it much better than the galley food
127. the pride I feel for him, even though I'm sad leaving him
128. knowing that I will see him one more time before he goes over there
129. the kind smile from the older woman at the airport departure gate
130. the view from above the clouds in an airplane
131. landing safely....especially after a white knuckle landing
132. our kids excitement to see me again
133. the love I have inside for my husband and our kids
Jerome, when you read this, know that I'll never forget the way your hand felt on mine while I was looking all around for you....and you were right there all along.