Whenever you’re reaching the end of a deployment, underway, school, or anything else that has kept you away from your family for a significant amount of time, the thought of one moment starts to dominate your life. It’s the last thing that runs through your head before sleep, and it’s the first thing there when you wake up. No matter what you’re doing throughout the day, it’s never far from the front of your mind.
The moment can start a hundred different ways. You might be exiting the gate at an airport. You may be walking down the brow of a ship. Maybe, you’re simply getting out of a car after pulling into a driveway.
However it begins, the climax of the story comes when, after being away from your family for months, you look up…and you see your kids.
Then…your kids see you.
This is where the constant daydreaming can get scary. A thousand thoughts run through your head.
What if they’re afraid of me?
What if they don’t remember me?
What if they run to somebody else?
What if they’re angry at me for leaving?
Each of these questions, plus a hundred more, run through your head for weeks. Each is slightly more terrifying than the last, and you manage to convince yourself that at least one of them will be true.
It turns out, however, that all of the worrying was for nothing. Once the moment comes around, you come to the full understanding of what unconditional love truly is because this is how the story ends:
Your kids see you. Then, their face instantly breaks into a smile that outshines the sun. They run straight to you with their arms stretched as wide as they’ll go. During all of this, they’re screaming at the top of their lungs, but there’s only one word coming out…