I recently returned from a week's vacation with my husband and 2 kids (and I am exhausted!). When we reached our destination I was doing my typical "look around the unfamiliar airport for baggage claim signs" and I saw a number of military families - one saying goodbye and two saying Welcome Home! And my emotional roller-coaster started full speed ahead!
The first family I saw - a man in DCUs and his (I assume) wife and child close to him. He was holding his child and hugging him/her tight. Then his wife stepped in and they hugged each other - not wanting to let go, it seemed. Their backs were to me, so I could not see their faces. But I didn't need to see their faces to know what was going on. I started to get teary-eyed myself and said a prayer for them as I walked through the airport. Even as I write this, I feel the knot in my throat... I can feel the pain of saying goodbye. And it hurts.
As I reached baggage claim I saw two families welcoming home their soldiers. There were hugs all around and tears of joy for the safe return of their loved one. Again, my eyes became misty and I just wanted to run up and hug these two brave men and tell them "Welcome Home!!!" But I didn't... I did have the chance to say "Welcome Home" to one of the soldiers as I was (quite obviously) staring at him and his family. We made eye contact and I simply said, "Welcome Home." He smiled, said thank you, and went about his way. And the tears started down my cheeks. Dangit, I was a mess!
As I waited for our luggage my mind was racing between the family saying goodbye and the two families seeing their loved ones again. I silently said a prayer for all of them, and for all of our Armed Forces and their families. I was given the gift of a vacation with my family, including my husband. A gift that I will always cherish.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!