Here in North Carolina we have a strong military presence. Places like Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg, and Cherry Point are often in the news, and when a family friend returns from a tour of duty everyone shows up to welcome them home.
There was no way I was going to miss Sonya’s return, even though I was supposed to be in an important conference in Orlando. Thankfully my understanding boss agreed, and I was able to change my flight so I could be there.
So Tuesday night the kids and I went to the airport to welcome Sonya. Andrew couldn’t make it because he was in the middle of mid-terms. We secured passes to go to the gate, and after an encounter with the new scanner, we hurried through the sparkling terminal at RDU.
The place was literally vacant at that hour, so Mark pounced on the first moving sidewalk, slowly accelerating to a sprint. Just as he hit full speed he bolted to the next, and the next. No one was around to care and I, for one, loved Mark being Mark. It was that sort of evening.
So the endlessly energetic one arrived to the empty gate first. It’s easy to understand his enthusiasm; it had been almost three weeks he had seen his mom.
In a few short moments arriving passengers began to scurry out from behind a partition, rushing to go somewhere. The plane was here.
There should have been a large choir singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” or a symphony or something, but it was just the 3 of us, so it was quite anti-climatic at the gate. But it was very climatic in our hearts. No one on the plane had a clue about who Sonya was, or what she had done, or why she was returning.
One by one, people rushed off the plane. With each figure our hearts jumped, hoping this was the one. It’s funny when flights land from Chicago. Everyone is wearing a heavy coat, and most are black. Some long, some short, some draped over an arm, most resting on shoulders. We were spectators for the parade of black coats. This doesn’t seem weird when you’re in Chicago, it’s a little bit of a spectacle in southern climes.
Then she strolled out, adorned in a beautiful purple top, black jeans, and carrying her simple, elegant Longchamps bag. No black coat. No fanfare. She saw the kids and everyone ran to embrace her.
She stood out from amongst the deplaned crowd in her purple glory.
She stood out to us for so many other reasons as well.
Mom was back home.