Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Oh, how painfully true that is. Homecomings are the true testament of it.
Every military homecoming is different. Different in location, in crowds, in wait times, in family situation, in age of the kids, in who is coming home.
This one was different because, as big as these hugs were, they are a newly blended family. The kids are twelve years old and twins. When I walked up and met them the son was on an iPad. The daughter was at the craft table. I had some background on them as I do with all my families. I knew mom was excited. We kept in touch over the past month about all the details that must me ironed out. Hey, that’s Navy life. But what I didn’t know was how invested the kids were in their mother’s fiancé until I saw it. Then it was painfully obvious how much he was missed. They kept inching forward, creeping over the crowd barriers as the sailors started spilling off the boat. Their excitement was a total surprise and a joyous one.
They were the first to see him and came at him fully charged, then barely let go to let anyone else have a turn to hug him. Mom was patient. But I knew that she was hanging back just to enjoy the show. Finally it was her turn but the kids still joined in. His sister and mom finally got a chance to say welcome home. It was their first homecoming to witness too. And he got to finally shake the hands of his brother-in-law that joined the family while he was on deployment.
At one point I heard Dad’s sister lean over to mom and say, “I see what you mean about the kids.” I’m dying to know what she was referring to. It’s no secret that blended families with older kids can be tricky to maneuver.
This day gave me so much joy. It’s going to be a beautiful wedding!