Remembering {...reunions}. ~ The Grace Between

Remembering {…reunions}.

From November 2008 to November of 2009, my husband and I were both deployed to different parts of the world. The J Girl spent the year with my older sister and her husband. She was one and a half when we dropped her off. She was two and half when we picked her up. This is about that day. {A rough draft of remembering.}

Riding the escalator up from the bowels of Hartsfield International Airport, eyes drilling upward towards the opening, towards my daughter. An eternity spent on the metaI teeth moving nowhere, bathed in the sickly florescent light of underground tunnels. I gripped the cold black rubber tight, so tight, a grin sneaking across my cheeks – at war with the fear of rejection squeezing my chest tight, forcing the air out until I gasped for breath.

The metal teeth disgorged me amid the cacophony of other peoples’ stories and all I could hear was the deafening sound of my anxious, brimming heart. And me with my new clothes, soft, like a new skin, terrified my baby would wound me, would shrink from my raw heart and ready arms.

And that cloud of white blond, highlighted against the dull facade of weary, dun-colored tiles, lit up in the haphazard crowd collected and roped off. The wispy halo of curls present even then, erupting around her chubby baby face and the slight lean forward, the quizzical expression for just a moment, and then … 


And arms outstretched. Dimpled fingers reaching for me. 

I sobbed. Chest heaving tears that burst forth from deep down, irrepressible. I shook from the joy of it, my arms wrapped tight around her baby body, weak in the knees.


My welcoming committee was eclectic and carried all the trappings of its own little traveling circus. My eighty-something year old grandfather in his wheelchair. Aunt and Uncle and all kinds of cousins, old and new. Heart friends and their children. Mom and Dad. Nieces and nephews. My sisters. There were posters and signs and jokes and tears and big, hard hugs that you don’t want to let go of ever.

And my baby, clinging tight to Mommy … wide-eyed … beautiful.

I’ll never have enough words, or the right ones, for that moment. 

On that day, my sister gave me one of my most treasured possessions. A necklace, a small silver disc with a date engraved on each side. The day we dropped her off, and the day I picked her up. 

And in between, with one simple flip of the disc, more of our story written, a bittersweet treasure box of moments for both families, an impossible journey complete.

{I wish I could tell you now what it meant, how it felt for my sister to give her back. That is another story for another day.}

This is who we dropped off …

IMG_9959 IMG_9960And this is who we picked up …

IMG_9597 IMG_9655


P.S. Daddy was two weeks behind me to Atlanta … she had another, much more private reunion with him.

{Editor’s note: I am in the process of writing our whole story, this is a small piece. Seeing the Wee Man grow through these baby stages reminds me often of what I missed of the J Girl. I still grieve it. I will occasionally be writing bits of our past on here … bear with me. I need to tell it, for my own sake, and for the J girl to know more of hers. It was an extraordinary, hard year for all involved.}

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