Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thank You

My wide eyes searched the huge room, scanning each person’s face, looking for the only one that really mattered. Two years ago, I’d stood in this same place, walked this same path. Only then, my heart had been hammering like a jackhammer in my chest from fear and sorrow, not anticipation, like now. Tears had been pouring down my cheeks, my heart following the guy who’d just boarded a plane.

I search for Caleb’s deep green eyes, the ones I could see so brightly in my mind, even when we were oceans apart. I search for his brown hair that used to fall over the tops of his ears, and his strong hands, the ones that looked so tough, but were really so tender.

My eyes briefly pause on each person’s face, moving on when I see that it isn’t his familiar face looking back at me, etched with a lopsided smile and strategically placed dimples.

Finally, my eyes land on someone whose face echoes mine, anxiousness and impatience engraved in every inch of his countenance. His eyes find mine, and his grin spreads across his face. I start towards him, not breaking his gaze as my pace quickens, and his does the same.

A few steps before he reaches me, Caleb drops his black duffle back and I rush into his outstretched arms. My feet are lifted off the ground as he hugs me and my arms hook around his neck. His embrace is so strong, so tight I can barely breathe, but I don’t care. My feet touch the ground again, but the rest of me is still on Cloud Nine. I run my fingers over the light stubble on his jawbone as he cradles my head in his hands and presses his lips to mine.

He pulls away and holds me at arm length, hands on my shoulders. The smile on his face doesn’t fade as his eyes wander from my head to my toes and back again. I knew what he was doing, because I was doing the same. He wanted to take in everything that had changed in the two long years since we’d last seen each other. He wanted to memorize me, just as I wanted to memorize him. His army- green camouflage uniform was tucked into his combat boots, his last name stitched into a patch on his chest, and his dog tags hung around his neck. His cocoa colored hair was cut in a typical military cut, short and standing up straight.

Caleb pulled me back towards him, into another embrace, kissing me another time before he grabbed his duffle back and laced his fingers with mine, his thumb stroking the back of my hand, back and forth, back and forth. We head towards the exit of the crowded airport, and just before we reach the swinging doors, an older gentleman stops us, his hand on my husband’s shoulder.

“Thank you.”

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