I kissed my kids goodbye at church after Liturgy on Sunday and headed for the airport leaving them with my mom and dad. I had a doctor appointment in Atlanta and was going to be gone for one night. My departure from home was uneventful so it didn’t prepare me for the incident I was going to encounter while walking through baggage claim the next day after arriving back home.
Later that night at the hotel, I talked to Les on the phone for awhile. He was telling me he was frustrated because he was just assigned a flight to Atlanta – getting there minutes after I was flying back to Oklahoma. Such a cruel tease especially since I’ve only seen my husband for a grand total of a few hours in the past 6 weeks. I flew back home a couple weeks ago for a doctor appointment that didn’t happen because I had a miscarriage. It was God’s mercy that I had a plane ticket to see Les two days after Mary Elaine died. Our kids haven’t seen their dad at all for six weeks and everyone is intensely missing him. Do you see how cruel of a tease that trip was to us now? It ended up the trip was cancelled but just the idea of it was frustrating. We had an agreement with Les’ boss that Les would get 4 consecutive days off each month to be with us. Unfortunately someone quit at work recently that has made it impossible for Les to take his promised days off. Thus we haven’t seen him in far too long!
After my doctor appointment was finished the next day, (it went well – which is exactly what we hoped for) I made my way back to the airport to spend the next few hours getting some long anticipated reading time done. I finished Naming the Child, recommended by several sweet people, while sitting amongst the hustle and bustle of people coming and going in the airport. Then I spent the better part of an hour texting Les while waiting to board my flight home. I miss him. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I used to have dinner waiting for him when he got home from flying or wait up late for him to get home so I could hear about his day – a passenger story, a mechanical story, or any other myriad of stories he’s accumulated over the years. How nice would it be to be able to come home to him tonight? Instead, I comforted myself with knowing I’d get to kiss my sleeping boys’ foreheads and give Niki a big hug & kiss when I got home. I settled into my seat next to a boy who couldn’t have been any older than 17 or 18 and very obviously flying for either his first or second flight ever. If he was my child, I would have held his hand and lovingly patted his knee in order to try and help him calm down. He reminded me SO MUCH of what Chris would be like at that age – touching everything, unable to sit still, and turning to look at every little noise. He was so cute. He copied everything I did. Being the wife of a pilot I’ve learned all the flight attendant cues coming from the cockpit. As soon as the bell chimed to let the flight attendants know we’ve reached 10,000 feet, I put down my tray. The boy looked at me and put down his tray. I turned on my iPad, he turned on his phone to play games. I put my tray up, he put his tray up. I turned off my iPad, he turned off his phone.
As we were approaching the airport to land, my thoughts went back to Les. I can’t even begin to explain the impact this separation has had on our marriage but quite the opposite from what most would expect. We have grown closer on a level I cannot even begin to put to words. I. miss. him.
The plane landed and I turned my phone on to tell Niki I was on my way home and to tell Les that I landed safely (which is really redundant considering I know for a fact he was tracking my flight on any number of his pilot apps). He started sending me texts and flirting with me which led me to text and walk through the hall of the airport as I walked out to my car. I always wondered how Niki could text and walk at the same time – it’s really not all that hard. Smiling and texting back and forth, I only momentarily looked up to glance around to see if anyone had come to pick me up as I walked out of security – even though I knew my van was out in the parking lot where I left it the day before. I just had this weird feeling I was meeting someone there. I kept walking. Texting. I was getting closer to the door so I put my phone up and went fumbling through the contents of my purse looking for my keys. I wanted to have them out before I got out to the parking lot.
I’m walking through baggage claim when I feel someone tap my shoulder. I spun around fast enough to possibly give myself whip lash to see my husband’s face grinning at me with a look of hope. I really don’t remember if I kissed him first or nearly screamed, “Why are you here?!” but it doesn’t really matter. There was just an overwhelming sense of joy and relief that he was beside me. I couldn’t stop hugging and kissing him. I was sooooo happy he was next to me that nothing else mattered even the fact that people are walking passed us and probably thinking I’m insane because I’m a little more enthusiastic than the normal greeting you see two people exchange at the airport who are obviously excited to see each other after a separation.
As we’re walking out to our car, the questions start pouring out. “When did you get here?” “How did you get here?” “How long are you here for?” etc, etc, etc.
His cancelled flight to Atlanta and just missing each other there, put Les over the edge with the need to be with his family. This was a lighter week at work so he kinda forced getting his promised days off. He drove through the night on Sunday to arrive at my parents’ house at 5am. He decided to sit in the living room and rest while he waited for everyone to wake up.
We were predicted to get snow Sunday night so I had texted Niki reminding her to get up early and see if her school in the afternoon was cancelled or not. She came out to the living room around 7am to turn on the news and walked right passed her dad. He said nothing, waiting to see what kind of reaction he’d get from her. She sent me a text saying they didn’t have anything on the news and I told her to look it up on the website. She pulls out her laptop and walks over to the other side of the room and catches a glimpse of Les sitting there. She let out a shriek of fright and dropped her laptop leaving it forgotten on the floor. “Daaaaaad?!?!?!” She smacked his arm and yelled at him for scaring her and then gave him a gigantic bear hug.
They sat and watched the news for a little bit together enjoying the quiet of an early morning house. The boys began to stir and Les could hear Justin ask grandma if he could go to the living room and look out the window to see if it snowed. He ran out to the window, never noticing his dad, ran back to the bedroom and started screaming, “It snowed! It snowed!” Grandma asked him to quiet down so he didn’t wake up the rest of the house. Justin then ran out to the bathroom and Les walked to the hallway to go say hi to him – knowing full well he should wait until after his child went potty before surprising him. Only Les didn’t get quite the reaction from Justin a father might expect after being away for six weeks.
Justin looked straight at his dad and yelled excitedly, “IT SNOWED!!!!!!!!!!”
Les tried again, “Hi LJ.”
“Hi dad.” and gave him a hug and kiss.
The other two boys soon emerged from slumbered and gave dad big hugs as they all woke up together on the couch while watching a cartoon.
Les spent the day with the kids while I was in Atlanta. I’m soooo glad he got that time with them.