For the last seven and a half months Bryan and I have been apart. He was busy dutifully supporting friendlies from his A-10 stationed at Kandahar AB in Afghanastan. Back home, me and the kids survived. We travelled, we made memories, we grew and changed, and we missed Bryan.
On Tuesday I got a text from his commanders wife that his set of planes had departed Lages in the Azores, but we didn’t know where they were headed. The set before them were able to push it all the way home because of some good weather. As the day went on I got more and more texts from Kathleen that the weather wasn’t as favorable, but there was still no direct word from the guys in the air. At 12:48 I got a text that they crossed into US airspace. By 1:24 with no new info the assumption was that they would need to take an overnight stop on the east coast before coming home tomorrow. bummer. I was fine with that, though, because we new it was a slim chance of them getting home a day early. Of course I was HOPING he’d be home so my hair and makeup were mostly ready. We were over at my friend Amanda’s house chilling out….I was trying to keep a clean house clean, and what better way than NOT being in it. The kids were playing and we were talking about food storage. Then, I got another bling on the phone. quoted, “OMG!!!!!!!!They are coming!!!!!!!!!! Landing at 4!!!!!!!!” from Kathleen. I squealed and was immediately hot and shaking and nervous. wow! That came at 1:30. We had 2 1/2 hours until he landed. Time to get busy.
The kids and I packed up and rushed home. I got changed into the dress I had picked out a couple months ago. Zoe selected a fluffy new dress I got at the goodwill last week, and I put Avi into his “Yeti” shirt since I know Bryan loves the sasquatch. Seemed fitting. We got out our huge banner and I nailed it out at the front door. The rest of the house was ready. Over the weekend we cleaned, we hung artwork, and I mowed. Monday we put up streamers and made a key lime pie. In the morning I had tidied up, made beds, vaccuumed a bit, and got the dishes clean. This family was SOOOOO ready for Daddy to return. At 2:30 we were back in the car and backing out of the driveway….the kids fell asleep by the second stop sign. I sped up toward the base so I had time to stop in at the Thai Mobile food truck out front of base. Bryan had requested a while ago Pad Thai for his return meal and I wanted to make that happen. It wasn’t on the menu today, but she was able to whip up a batch she had prepped for tomorrow. Thank God! I bought 3 big containers – enough to share with the crowd at the squadron. Then we drove onto base and parked at the squadron. Loaded 2 sleepy kids, Zoe’s poster, and a giant grocery bag of thai food onto the stroller and booked into the squadron – it was 3:30.
At the squadron bar other wives were gathering and seemed as crazed as I was. There were many other squadron members and family there too, so it was a great crowd. Amanda and her fam joined us for the event, and to take pictures!! So nice to not worry about that. After hanging out for a bit we got word they were on their way to land. So we loaded into a bus and road out to the flightline canopies where the planes park. At some point someone told me Bryan was in canopy 5 and tail number 144….I was so exctied I don’t even remember who this was. The butterflies in my stomach were incredible. I haven’t felt so excited about my man since the day we married!!!! I think I finally realized as we waited just how much I had missed him. There had been lots of rain the last few days, and a giganitic looming dark black cloud was south of the runway – where the guys were supposed to come from. As we stood around the planes landed on the far runway. We couldn’t see them very well, and really didn’t know which was which but it didn’t matter. Once they had all landed and gathered at the end, they taxied together in a little parade past us and around to the canopies. It was beyond exciting. When I saw that “144” drive by I just jumped and screamed and waved. He waved back! I love him.
Bryan pulled the plane into the canopy parking and had a bunch of stuff to do. I’ve seen him land before, so I knew he’d be up there for about 5 minutes while we waited. So, I made some funny signs for him. When he finally came down I set down Avi and just ran for a big hug and kiss. Then I turned to get Avi and Zoe came running for him. She was ecstatic that Daddy was home!! I passed Avi over and he just looked at Bryan for a while before leaning back over to me. After that it was hugs, and Bryan had flowers for us, and squealing, and then there were people taking pictures and commanders and friends coming to shake hands. It was nuts for a while as they grabbed bags out of the travel pod. The kids were running amuk. I was kind of overwhelmed with happiness and just watched Bryan as he got stuff taken care of. We got a quiet moment then as we walked back to the squadron as a family. Of course is was 5pm and the national anthem went off, so as we are all standing at attention the rain finally poured down….it left a huge full rainbow!
Back at the squadron the party was underway. Bryan got to eat his pad thai with Avi shovelling handfuls of rice into his own mouth. Zoe was Bryan’s little caboose as he put away gear and did some paperwork. She even rode the golf cart with him back out to the jet for some papers. We didn’t stay long. The drive home was surreal. Finally, he was in the car with us. At home I think Bryan was a bit overwhelmed with all the new stuff – posters, signs, a rug, lights, moved furniture, Avi’s bed, and Zoe showing him every minute thing she had done the last 7 months. He was so tired, but happy to listen. And have some key lime pie.