Last Friday, exactly eight weeks of longing for my family came to an end as we embraced inside the Spokane International Airport. I couldn’t help but think that what I experienced in that moment was to a small degree what military personnel feel when they are reunited with their families after a long deployment. It was one of the best feelings of my entire life.
FaceTime can’t fully depict the physical characteristics of your loved ones. Sloan was smaller, Beau was bigger, and Sidney was prettier than what I remembered on our countless video calls. After our airport reunion, I couldn’t wait to get them to their new home.
My in-laws and dad rode in a rental car while Sidney jumped behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Tiguan I had purchased for her. Needing no introduction to the new vehicle nor the streets of Spokane, she gleefully drove Sloan, Beau, and myself to my parents’ house where we will live until we decide on housing. As we drove the sun-soaked streets on that gorgeous Friday afternoon, I was finally at ease.
However, it was a bittersweet weekend. I was so overjoyed to have my family back but also sad that Sidney’s parents would be returning to South Carolina without them. Despite their looming departure on Sunday morning, we tried to make their stay as pleasant possible. My parents, Sid’s parents, and the four of us hung out at the house and socialized and shared meals together. My dad and I did escape with my father-in-law to Coeur d’Alene so he could see the beautiful scenery and the famous lake.
On Saturday night, we held a cookout for Sid’s family. My siblings and their families joined us. It was a gorgeous night filled with awesome conversation but it sure was tough seeing my in-laws say goodbye to Sloan and Beau before they returned to their hotel later that evening. They departed at 6 a.m. the next morning as Sid and I were there for the tearful goodbye.
When I moved to Spokane in March, it was a little surreal to be living here again. Now that my family is here, I have that same feeling again. What isn’t surreal is the bond between Sloan and I. Kid you not, we have not missed a beat. She is just as sweet and silly as I remember. I am making up time with Beau. I left him a newborn and reunited with him as a handsome chunk. He has changed so much but I am happy to be giving him bottles and changing his diapers again. The minimal sleep thing really isn’t that bad either. Both kids melt my heart.
What can I say about having my best friend back in the same zip code? Sidney and I get to enjoy each other and co-parent again. On Sunday night, we went and hung out with my brother and his fiancée. They grilled for us and we played a game called Quiplash. On the way home, we opened the sunroof on our Tiguan and blasted music. While the fresh air circulated around us as we belted out lyrics, I couldn’t remember a time I had been happier in the past eight weeks.
After an extremely special weekend, we are trying to establish a new normal in very non-normal circumstances. Whatever that ends up looking like, I feel so blessed that the four of us can move forward with this amazing new life. Don’t Blink.