About one year ago
Almost one year ago today, I was getting ready to board a red eye flight from Salt Lake City to Syracuse, NY. The excitement I was feeling was overwhelming. When I approached the delta desk to check my bag the women behind the counter started making small talk with me. I told her I was going back to New York to join my husband who was coming home from Afghanistan. She noticed my pregnant belly and asked me if this was our first and what we were having. With a huge smile on my face I told her we were having a little girl and that yes, she was our first. Luck would have it that Zach was coming home early right in time for Christmas and the birth of our baby. I couldn’t be more thrilled. The flight had two stops with the first leg stopping in Atlanta. The first flight was uncomfortably crowded. The man sitting to the left of me was over using the space that was given him and kept elbowing me. Averie had her head in my ribs and getting comfortable was out of the question. Despite being slightly annoyed at the man next to me I was so excited I wanted to tell anyone that would listen that I was getting my husband back! We arrived in Atlanta around 6 am. I was exhausted, I hadn’t slept much due to being so uncomfortable and the excitement. Boarding the flight to Syracuse the plane was bare so I took advantage and sat in a row with nobody in it. After take off I stretched out and tried to sleep. Meanwhile my amazing mother in law was driving my things, my car and Pistol across the country. She refused to let me drive with her and wanted me to be more comfortable. She had arrived in Syracuse the night I boarded and would pick me up when I landed. Awaking to the voice of the pilot, he was alerting us that we would be landing soon. I looked out the window and all I could see was snow. I was not in Utah anymore. It took my MIL over an hour to get to me. She had made it in time the night before just as a huge storm had come in. When she did pull up I couldn’t be more excited to see her and Pistol! Carefully we drove north towards the base while we watched people slide off the road around us. Without a place to live yet we had a hotel room booked for the night. I continued to check the website that told us when the homecoming ceremony would be, refreshing it obsessively. It hadn’t changed in a few days so I was confident that we would be seeing him in just a few short days. That night the storm had followed us north so we watched out the windows as the world grew white around us. The next morning we went by the managements office of where we would be living to see if they would allow us to move in without Zach, and thankfully they did so we wouldn’t have to keep staying in the hotel. For the next few days my mother in law and I got as many things from storage as we could. I made sure to include the Christmas Tree so we could surprise Zach. He didn’t know we had gotten the house. A few days later we sat in anticipation for 9pm when the ceremony would start. At about 8:30 we left for the base. Since my husband had been gone the rules had changed for visitors. I couldn’t get my mother in law on with my ID she had to get a visitor pass. We drove to the main gate and waited in an incredibly long line of other anxious people wanting to get on base to welcome their loved ones home. After what seemed like forever, and nervously watching the clock, we were finally able to get on base. As we walked up to the gym we could hear the music playing and the tears started to fill my eyes. Arriving a few minutes late we walked in to a crowd just as our soldiers started walking into the gym. My mother in law spotted him almost immediately. As luck would have it he was straight in front of us. I myself did not recognize him. I still laugh about it today. He had thinned out and since he had lost weight his neck got skinnier. Skinny neck + bad eyesight = I recognizable to me. After some convincing I realized yes that was my husband. As the national anthem played I felt immense love and pride and couldn’t hold back the tears. Just a short speech later and then they announced that we could go see our soldiers. Zach still makes fun of me because I took off running towards him with a bit of a gallop. Hugging him in that moment was like nothing else. I had my husband back!! When we left the base with him and his 1000 lbs of belongings, we drove towards the house. Thinking he was driving to the hotel, we told him that management gave us a key to the house so we could show him inside. We pulled up and opened the garage and led him in. Once he walked through the door he was confused to see stuff in the house until we told him we were able to move in. He even asked if we had roommates lol! Nothing could beat this moment. I had my husband back, safe and healthy. Our little family was back together. Completely and utterly unaware of the sadness we would face just a few months later. I often go back to this time. A time when we were all together. I treasure these moments so much now.