The Odyssey Known as Summer 2013 got started on a wonderful high note June 4th when Sam got home from his mission to Anaheim, California. He was a hardworking and humble missionary, and I know that he did a lot of good among the fine folks in SoCal. He loved those good people with all his heart, and he loved the other missionaries with whom he served. It had been 2 years since we last saw him, so it was a pretty amazing homecoming. It is a very particular, intense joy that I feel at these times when I've welcomed my boys home from giving everything they have to a cause that is so important to them.
Adding to my joy was the presence of both Jeff and Ashlyn, who came on their dime all the way from Utah to be there for Sam's moment. We also were able to bring my nephew Josh out as well. He and Sam are close in age and are good friends. It was so good to have them all home and have a full house again.
On the day he was coming in, there were the 5 of us at the house plus Eric at work all trying to meet up at Reagan National Airport right in the middle of rush hour. His flight was showing a slightly early arrival, and though we'd left when I wanted to, traffic was even worse than I anticipated. I started to really worry that we would miss Sam's first moments off the plane and was berating myself for not leaving 30 minutes earlier.
Of course that was a useful exercise.
I settled down and pretended that if our first reunion was at the luggage carousel, that would be okay.
We pressed on with clenched teeth through the heavy city traffic (In Space Balls, Ludicrous Speed is going really fast. Instead, we were at the other end of Ludicrous and going so slow it was painful in the face of what was at stake). When the GPS got us lost at one point, I started to fail in my charade that it was all going to be okay. I really, really, really, REALLY wanted to greet him at the gate. I'm a pretty relaxed mom and pride myself on my independent kids, but this was TWO YEARS for pete's sake. Give me my mommy moment!! As brave and chipper as I was trying to be on the surface, my heart was breaking at the thought of Sam walking out of security and not seeing me there.
But it wasn't looking good.
Eventually, we got parked and did not just run, we sprinted through the airport with everything we had and reached the security gate maybe 90 seconds before we first caught sight of Sam coming around the corner with anther missionary. Talk about the nick of time! I was so relieved. Of course it was a joyful moment with our dear friend Laurrel and her kids there as well. I still well up with happy tears as I think of it.
One unexpected sweetness of that day that I especially want to remember is this: Throughout all of this anxiousness of getting to the airport, my daughter-in-law was a true heroine. (Can I just say that I wish so much that there was a better name for my son's wife? She is just so much more special than the very technical name Daughter-in-law would indicate. Just saying.) During the Horrible Drive, she kept up a constant commentary to convince me that we had plenty of time (she did not let on that his flight was even earlier than I thought), and that I should park and we should all go in together, and in general took over leading the group so I could concentrate and was the key to us staying focused on our goal and RUNNING through that dang airport. My love for her grew in a very special way in those moments. A way that only comes through shared experiences like that. She perfectly complemented my weakness in a key moment and I felt grateful anew that she is part of our family.
Here are some photos (all courtesy of the heroic Ashlyn):
|Our first glimpse.|
|That awesome moment!|
|And Eric's awesome moment.|
|Sam takes it all in.|
|His companion for the flight home, another missionary he served with who lives in VA.|
|3 Brothers, probably on the phone with the 4th.|
|Talking to my parents and Johnathan.|