I have returned from a much-deserved break to Denver to visit my baby sister and her baby boy. Luke is a cutie-pie and a sweet little snuggler. And lil sis is doing a great job as a new mom.
I missed my kids like mad, though. As in craved the smell of their hair and the tickle of their laughter. There is nothing better to me than my morning snuggle. I do not look forward to the day that begins with an empty lap.
The longest minutes of my journey were the ones after my plane had landed in Cedar Rapids as it was pulling ever so slowly toward the gate, cautious in its approach like an inexperienced tightrope walker climbing an endless ladder. I knew that Scott and the kids were waiting for me in the airport. I imagined them: Scott trying to entertain a curious Violet, Milo tugging at his hand asking if my plane had landed yet and where was I and would I see him. It is winter here in Iowa, but in my imagination they were without coats, dressed as only a daddy can dress a kid – basically in the stuff that looks comfortable, regardless of wear or fit. I imagined their sweet round faces lighting up as they ran to me, music swelling in the background – clearly a very cinematic moment.
After an eternity, the plane stopped inching and I could hear the alarm of the moving gate as it was reeled out to kiss the plane. The plane rumbled as the baggage handlers cracked its shell; it shrieked like an injured monkey as the cargo hold door descended. The small craft rocked gently as its belly was boarded and the luggage was unceremoniously extracted.
Finally the flight attendant opened the door. The first class passengers stood, stretched, and casually reached for their carry-on luggage. As they ambled off the plane, I wished silently that the coach class passengers would steamroll a path through them. I wanted off the plane – I could practically hear my family, so strong was the pull on my heart.
I snatched my purse from the storage compartment at my feet and saw an opening in the column of people deplaning. I pulled my arms into my jacket; they slid against the lining as I shrugged the coat up. My carry-on was waiting on the rack with the other over-sized carry-ons that were towed through the Minneapolis airport and then tossed into the plane. The handle responded quickly to my tug, but the balance was off and the bag listed for a moment as I sped up to the gate, then it tipped over on its side, anchoring me to the spot. I cursed, righted it and nearly skipped away in my anticipation.
Naturally, every person walking in front of me wasn’t walking as fast as I was – obviously they didn’t have my babies waiting for them at the end of their journey or they would have been nearly running. I came to the top of the escalator, ready to bounce down it with my bag, when, as it crested, I caught sight of Scott. I began waving like a star-struck teen at a Hannah Montana concert. He returned the wave with warmth, though he did not mirror my own spastic excitement. As I got to the bottom of the wobbling escalator, Milo saw me and waved, too.
I dashed through the security door – an imaginary gate separating passengers from spectators – and as I did, the tears that had been welling in my eyes since I boarded the plane in Minneapolis spilled over. Scott was beaming, Milo had gone shy in his excitement, and Violet, who hadn’t seen me yet, was scanning the other deplaned passengers looking for me.
Kneeling by Milo, I opened my arms and he quickly tucked himself into my right arm, nearly tipping me backwards with the power of his hug. Violet then realized that I was right in front of her, she gave a quick squeal, then launched herself into my other arm. I was a goner… I sobbed, “I missed you! I missed you so so so so much!”
Milo, sensing that this was an unusually emotional reaction from me, held on tighter and whispered, “I love you mommy!” Violet alternated between putting her head on my shoulder and picking it up to look at me, as if I was an apparition and she wasn’t sure if I was real. I am real; I am home.
Yes, getting away was nice, but coming home was better.