“He’s home. That’s all I could think, but this wasn’t the big one. This wasn’t ‘The Homecoming.’ That was still five months away. This was the mid-deployment week-and-a-half at home. Rest and Recuperation or R&R as they call it. It had been 219 days since I’d seen my husband and 219 days since he held our now seven month-old son.
“I was used to being the one coming home from deployment. I knew what my husband had experienced ‘over there’ because I had been there too. A few years earlier, I was deployed as a flight nurse to the same area my husband was now deployed. We had been there, together, at an austere forward operating base in southwestern Afghanistan.
“There, we learned to appreciate the little things and found comfort in one another’s company. We had gotten to know each other during that combat deployment, without running water or a mirror larger than a powder compact. He thought I was beautiful even covered in Afghan moon dust, my hair in a messy Navy bun after wearing a helmet on a MEDEVAC flight. He knew me first as a lieutenant and a flight nurse. I’ve always loved being both of those things. Now, even more than that, I love being his wife and the mother of his son.
“There is no picture of the three of us together the day he came home for R&R. While we sat at baggage claim it occurred to me that the next time we were at the airport it would be to kiss my husband goodbye again, and ask him to come home safely one more time. I pulled my cell phone from my purse and snapped this picture of my husband and son just before we rushed home to enjoy our precious ten days together before our final five months apart. Resting, recuperating, and loving every minute.”