Wendi asked me to do a little post about the events of this weekend that she could use on her blog, so I decided to use it here, too! In order for this to make sense, I need to give you a little background. (For those of you who know us personally, forgive the extra details).
My husband,Philip, is in the Air Force and we have been stationed at Eglin AFB in Florida since 2007. For the last three years, we lived ¾ of a mile from my friend, Rebekah, and her husband, Josh, as he did his residency at Eglin. We were very close. Our kids ages were closely matched and they were good friends, we saw each other multiple times a week, talked on the phone at least once a day and watched each other’s kids on a regular basis. Sitting on her back deck on a summer day, drinking iced chai was a little slice of heaven.
When Josh graduated last June, the Air Force sent them to the Azores, a small island off of Portugal, in the middle of the ocean. The day they left was a crushing, tear soaked one. Life has gone on, as it does, even though so many things seem so strange with them not here. Their life across the ocean was so different from here and I missed talking to her every day. Keeping up with someone’s life on Facebook justwasn’t the same. I missed her deeply. No one had quite filled the spot I had become accustomed to her being in in my life.
Rebekah was pregnant when they moved and they (due to super strange rules at the local hospital) decided she would fly back home to Colorado to deliver the baby when it was time. Colorado is a long way from Florida, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to get to than Portugal! A couple months ago, I convinced my husband that I should visit Rebekah while she was stateside and contacted Josh to arrange the details. She would be induced on December 30th, and I’d fly in on January 3ed. Rebekah knew nothing.
Fast forward to a few days ago…. The baby was born, Luke Isaiah, and when I saw his pictures on Facebook, I messaged her about how bummed I was to not be visiting her in the hospital (all the while, knowing I’d see her in four days!) She echoed my sadness.
Early Friday morning I was excitedly waiting to board my flight that would get me started on my way to Rebekah. That flight was delayed several hours, due to engine trouble and I ended up missing my connecting flight in Dallas. I was supposed to have arrived in Grand Junction, CO by noon and now… I wouldn’t get there until 8:45 pm. I was devastated. There went NINE hours of my already short visit! I was stuck in the airport for seven hours.
My phone had quit working shortly before my first flight, so I had a stressful time contacting my husband at home, and also letting Josh know I hadn’t made the flight. Two of my friends at home (also military wives) were watching my three kids for the day and were instrumental in helping me get connected with Philip and also getting information to Josh, without ruining the surprise with Rebekah.
The first bright spot in the day was finding the USO in the airport. A smiling face, free food, and a place to relax was a welcome sight to this emotional, disappointed and tired traveler. I called Philip, napped a little and watched part of a movie. God bless all the sweet volunteers who work there.
Everything went off without a hitch. Josh went in (he left the door cracked and I waited just outside). Rebekah was sitting on the couch and asked him what had taken so long. As he explained and made excuses, he picked up her camera, turned it on, and said, “Some random person gave me these Raisinets and asked me to give them to you (and then he threw the bag in her lap), then I popped in the door and said, “...and here she is!” Rebekah’s face reflected total confusion for only a millisecond and then she screamed and launched off the couch and across the room at warp speed. Who knew a four day post partum woman could move so fast?? =) She hugged me and burst into tears. “I’m So glad you’re here!” she said. Josh caught it all on camera:
It. Was. Perfect. All the planning and waiting and scheming had paid off, she was totally and completely surprised and just kept saying “I can’t believe you’re actually here!”
We really only had 24 hours together, since I left the house again at 5:30 this morning, but we made it count! I got in lots of baby snuggles, we sat and chatted and caught up, we joked, we laughed and teased each other just like we always had. I did a photo shoot of Luke, we visited with her family, and last night had a girl’s night out with her sister, sister’s in law, mother in law and some friends at a card party. Josh’s family was very welcoming and he ragged on me like old times. Nothing had changed. We hadn’t skipped a beat. Thousands of miles of separation don’t have anything on real friendship.
It was an early, chilly start this morning and goodbyes were quick. They weren’t the tear-stained kind like last time when they moved. This time I had travel, getting checked in, and getting home on mind as well. Josh was wearing shorts, argyle socks, Keens and a funny, tasseled, knitted hat in the freezing cold when he dropped me off, so that helped lighten the mood. =) The tears didn’t come until hours later, on my second flight as I thought about kissing baby Luke goodbye on his silky soft hair that morning. He will likely be a little boy the next time I see him… a pain that cuts deep to someone so in love with new babies.
We are likely moving in 6 months (to where, we aren’t sure yet), and Josh and Rebekah could be moving to Europe or elsewhere later this year. Travel and schedules are increasingly difficult when you consider that there are seven children between our families. We won’t be seeing each other often. I don’t know when I’ll see her again, but I know that our hearts will only ever be ¾ of a mile apart.
Here are more pictures from my visit:
First time I held Luke shortly after I arrived
Rebekah's Dad, sister and niece were in town for a couple days. I'd already met her dad a couple times and he's pretty awesome. It was the first time I'd met her sister, Sarah, and she is so much fun!
The girls with their dad
(There are some good looking genes in this family!)
Baby Luke being admired by his Mama, Josh's dad, and his cousin, Selah
photo shoot of Luke!
photo shoot of Luke!
The new family of Six!
Which reminds me of when I took this picture, the day Joel came home from the hospital:
(Okay, that's pretty crazy how similar these couches are and that there is a lamp behind the couch on the right hand side! Ha!)
Biggest and littlest brothers =)
Elijah and I
Joel and I
Judah and I
It was so fun seeing the boys, and interacting with them, without other kids around. It certainly made it easier for Rebekah and I to visit, since I didn't have my three with me, and she had family there to help with hers!
At the card party. Her sister, Sarah, has a business called Whimsical Paperie, her stuff is awesome!
Bek and I at the party
Sarah and Rebekah
One last picture with Luke before heading out into the cold to the airport early yesterday morning