No doubt it takes patience to love a military man. If you give your heart to a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, etc, you're bound to spend a lot of time waiting. And waiting. And then waiting some more. Our servicemen work long hours when they're home, and of course deployments bring into focus the true meaning of "absence makes the heart grow fonder". The countdown to a homecoming seems endless. The anxiety, worry, loneliness and uncertainty stretch minutes into hours, hours into days, days into weeks. But then magically, you wake up one morning and you realize it's finally time to clean the house, shave your legs for the first time in months, and put away the teddy bear you've been cuddling and drooling on at night. Your love is coming home and now the waiting is over, right? Not exactly.
I met Jessica and her mother-in-law in the squad bay on a mild evening when the sun was still high in the California sky. We had just about an hour until Jessica's husband would be arriving on the flight line in one of those infamous white buses. But of course this is the military, and an hour turned into more than 2. Jessica and I stood on the flight line for what seemed like an eternity. I watched her face turn to joy when headlights appeared in the darkness, and then to disappointment when we realized the lights were not white buses, but rather trucks filled with gear. And so she waited, staring nervously into the distance, waiting for a sign. And as it happens, magically the waiting was over. The buses pulled up right in front of us and Marines began spilling out. They made their way into formation, where they were given orders, and then set free. Jessica's eyes darted around, trying to pick her Marine out from a sea of digital camouflage. There she stood, waiting once more for her love to appear. And then there he was, like a rabbit pulled from a black hat. Jessica ran towards him, leaped into his arms and wrapped her legs around his body. A real body. A warm body. A familiar body she had waited to feel next to hers for far too long. And now that waiting really was over.
Thank you, Jessica, for allowing me to be a part of your husband's homecoming. I am honored to have counted the minutes alongside you, even if only for a few hours.
And without further ado, here is a homecoming story-- you guessed it-- worth waiting for :)