John went to the airport with his older sister, Eleanor, to pick up her grandson. He was arriving home today from his second tour in Iraq. Eleanor had always been uneasy about Nick being overseas – she practically raised him. She felt more like his mother than his grandmother. She was proud he signed up to deploy, but still could never come to terms with the whole thing.
While in the terminal, they were looking out the window together, waiting. Waiting for his flight to arrive. Waiting to greet him. They should be used to it by now – all the waiting. Waiting for phone calls, letters, word that he would be sent home. There had been no announcement that the plane had been delayed, so they continued to stare out the window, waiting.
Eleanor sighed. John blankly gazed out the window. Neither spoke a single word. The plane touched down and finally made its way to the gate. They both looked down, and Eleanor grasped her baby brother’s hand tighter than ever before. She grabbed her cross necklace, the one Nick gave her before he left for his tour, and she said a silent prayer. She finally sat down, John joining her. They couldn’t bear to look out the window any longer.
After some time, they both let out a sigh when the gate attendant approached them, notifying them they could head downstairs and meet the escort. John informed the attendant they would go shortly, after they welcomed home the returning troops. She nodded and walked away to open the gate. One by one, the smiling Marines walked through the gate, cheering and congratulating each other. It was finally over. They were back to carry on their lives with their family and friends.
Nick was not with them.
He would never meet his baby. He would never see his wife one last time. He would never be able to hug Eleanor and thank her for raising him. He would never shake John’s hand again. But he would never, ever be forgotten.
This piece was somewhat difficult for me to write, because I have lost friends to war. Thank our troops for the daily sacrifices they make to keep us free.
(Photo credit: http://insightfulnana.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/american-flag.jpg)