I went in to wake Cooper up first. It was a little after 4:00 am. I had explained to him what was happening at each step along the process of Jeremy coming home. He knew the night before what would be happening because I had walked through the whole thing with him. Cooper doesn’t do surprises like that very well and he needed to know what the next day would hold for all of us.
When I went into his room and started to gently brush his face and hair with my hands, I said, “Cooper honey, are you ready to get up and get your Daddy?”. Cooper smiled a huge grin, sat up fast as lightening and started clapping his hands! He finally was able to say “YAY!” and he just started laughing and giggling with excitement. He ran to the bathroom and then ran back into his room to get dressed. I could tell he was really tired, but it was as if he was willing his little body to wake up and realize what was ahead. He talked my ear off!
Once Cooper was up, I went and got Chase. I quietly crept into his room, feeling sorry and a little sad to wake up the little guy. He was so sweet and peaceful in his crib. I started to think maybe I should have someone watch him, but then I remembered how crushed everyone would be if Chase wasn’t there. One day of a little less sleep is easy to repair.
I gently woke him up and to my surprise, he was so happy! He was just as groggy as Cooper, but it was almost as if he knew what was happening too. I asked Chase the same question I asked Cooper, “Are you ready to go get your Daddy?”. He seemed excited and danced around in his crib while Cooper danced around saying “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”.
I started to move as quick as I could at this point. It was quickly approaching 4:30 am and I needed to move if I was going to get to the gym on time. It wasn’t far from our house, but I had no idea how many other people would be heading in that direction. I loaded the kiddos in the car as well as all our stuff.
I need to break here to say that my wonderful small group came over on Friday, July 2 for a fun night of sign making and house decorating. It was such an exciting night!
The plan was that these crazy people would join me at the gym to welcome Jeremy home! I made extra sure all our signs were in the car and I nervously started my drive to North Fort.
I pulled in right at 4:45 am. Nellie. I was living up to my reputation of being late. I parked and unloaded the kids and the car at some sort of record speed. I still can close my eyes and see the sun just starting to rise above the buildings on post. The sky was on fire with warm orange and red and purple melted in amongst what was left of the night sky and just a few little stars remaining. Crystal and Travis had just pulled into the gravel lot and I heard Brayden shout “COOOPERRRR!” at the top of his lungs. Peyton’s gentle 2-year old voice quickly gave her own shout out, “Miss Tiffanyyyyyyy!!!!” Crystal came running towards me with a big smile on her face to help me. We hugged each other tightly and I think I may have squealed and jumped up and down a little. Brayden and Cooper excitedly talked about what was about to happen as we all rushed to get into the gym.
When we got inside, the video feed had been going for what seemed like a long time. I checked my watch and it was 4:50 am. The plane had landed a little early! We found some seats and settled in for what could be a long wait. We eagerly watched the video feed to see if we could see Jeremy.
The gym was full of excited friends and family members. There were all sorts of snacks and drinks there for the taking. (But I had brought my own-I did give the boys breakfast once we got inside.) Fun and upbeat music was playing loudly and as my small group gathered together I felt a rush of emotions. I was pretty surprised to be feeling such a mix of sadness and excitement; sadness over seeing some of the wives in attendance whose husbands had been killed in action and excitement over the joy we were about to experience. It was a hard reality of the morning.
We did eventually see Jeremy getting off the plane when they looped the live video feed for us. It was so crazy to think he was on his way to us right at that moment. I love to hear Jeremy tell about the drive over to Ft. Lewis on the bus from McChord where the plane landed. He said the bus seemed to hit every. single. red light imaginable and all the soldiers went into a fit of turrets each time they stopped. Red lights can be so cruel, he he he he he he….