The night finally came! It was time to go to the airport to pick up Ronnie!! His parents picked me up at my house and we made the long drive to the airport. On the way there my mind was on so many things…I cannot get married right now. I wanted to make his first homecoming memorable. I wanted the vision he had of running to me in the airport to happen in a way he would always treasure but not sure what to do. I should have worn something more festive instead of my black and white dress. No, the dress was the right choice since I will wear it in the portrait I will give him later. Did I bring enough film? I want so much to kiss him! Can I kiss him in front of his parents? Sure they expect it but would I be ok with it? I have to get “ok with it” because soldiers expect to be kissed when they come home, parents or no parents. Will he drive me to school in the morning? How soon will we get back home? How much time will we have tonight?
His parents noticed the silence in the backseat and it was going to be a long drive. “How is school going?” “So far so good. I am keeping up with all of my classes. English is the worst since they bumped me up to Honors classes. Seriously, there is no instruction. Mr. Hershey says Read This and Write a paper, 20 pages long, typed and in double space. What about the students who didn’t take typing? I feel sorry for them.” Mr. Leadore asked “So, what do you think of our soldier?” “He is doing very well! I knew he would. No matter what the job he always does really well.”
Mrs. Leadore turned around in her seat to face me when she said “I think it is wonderful that you and Ronnie are planning to get married.” I blushed so much that I was sure I stopped breathing for a minute. I took a deep breath and played with the skirt of dress then she said “I’m counting on you to bring my boy home. I think it is great that you are sticking this out with him. It’s not that I don’t like foreigners or anything but I would like him to marry a girl from home. Then we would know that he would always be around. He will always come back to you. I know he loves you and I hope you know by now that we love you too.” I was so overcome I didn’t know what to say. I played with my skirt a bit more, took another deep breath and on the brink of tears said “I couldn’t imagine my life ….without him.” I looked up and saw there were tears in her eyes but she was smiling so sweetly I knew they were happy tears. “Promise me one thing. Don’t run off and get married without letting me know. I want to be there.” With that she reached over the front seat and squeezed my hand. “If I weren’t strapped in this seatbelt I would hug you.” While still holding her hand I clicked off my seatbelt, put my arms around her neck and hugged her tightly. “I promise.”
Mr. Leadore was not about to sit in a car for the long drive with two crying women. “So, Heather, what kind of music do you like to listen to?” With that he started searching the radio stations. “I can listen to just about anything so long as it’s not banjo music.”
For the rest of the drive we chatted about things like the up coming space shuttle launch. How we hoped Ronnie was taking care of his knees. His old soccer injuries put him in the med unit once while in basic training, after a long march. I was terrified when he called me. He said he was fine but wanted to call to let me know before anyone called his parents. He knew they would call me and I would want to rush right out there to him. I did. I wanted to, but he wasn’t allowed visitors and I wasn’t a family member…yet. Mrs. Leadore assured me that if any “family only calls” she received she would let me know right away!
Absent mindedly I played with my engagement ring, twisting it around my finger. We were getting closer and closer to the airport. Finally! We were there. Mr. Leadore parked the car and we got out. Mrs. Leadore immediately clasped hands with me. We were so giddy with excitement we were almost skipping like school girls holding hands into the airport!
We had just made it to his gate just before his arrival. I had to resist the impulse to jump up and down. I was so excited and nervous I didn’t know how to keep my feet still or how I should be standing or where I should be standing. We agreed to play a little trick on him. Mr. and Mrs. Leadore would stand side by side and I would sort of hide behind them. I peeked between their shoulders to see if he was coming out yet. There he was! In his dress greens looking so sharp. Just as I spotted him I turned my back so he wouldn’t notice I was right behind his parents. Oh my! You should have seen the look on his face when he saw his parents. He was smiling but worried “Where’s Heather?” He shook hands with his Dad who said “Welcome home soldier.” While he was hugging his Mom I turned around. With one arm still hugging his Mom he reached out with the other and pulled me over to him. “Get over here You!” and he hugged me and swung me around while I giggled incisively. He stopped spinning me around but was still holding me off the ground. He kissed me then slid me down his body until my feet reached the ground. We both had forgotten we were in a crowded airport …with his Parents!!! When his Dad cleared his throat Ronnie held me at arms length while still not letting go of my hands “Let me look at you.” He spun me around once then said “Wow, you look GREAT!”
Mr. Leadore said “Let’s go get your bags.” Ronnie pulled me next to him and I was just about to let go of his hands when he said “Oh no you don’t. I’m not letting go of you.” We held hands all the way to baggage claim. He couldn’t stop staring at me. He even tripped on the escalator. “Oh it is SO GOOD to SEE YOU!” I was so excited and so happy I didn’t know what to say. I was still blushing from head to toe from when he first scooped me up in his arms. I was holding Ronnie’s hand! He was Right there next to me! This wasn’t a dream! He was REALLY here!!!
We reached the baggage claim area and he hugged his Mom again but only with one arm since he was still holding on to my hand. When he said he wasn’t going to let go he really meant it. Mr. Leadore went to get the car as we waited for Ronnie’s duffle bag to come through luggage claim. While we watched the conveyor belt he took hold of both of my hands and spun me around until my back was to him, his arms were crisscrossed in front of me and he was holding my hands. He nuzzled into my neck and rocked me back and forth. “Thank you for coming here to meet me. It wouldn’t be the same without you ” Oh my, he really knew how to make my knees go weak. I leaned back against him, I was putty in his arms. I was so relaxed and happy I had to keep reminding myself that we were in public. I just wanted to fall in to him completely.
Ronnie’s duffle bag came around and he picked it up in one swift movement. His Mom and I both looked at each other like “Oh MY! That is a huge bag and he did it without any effort at all.” He also did it without even letting go of my hand!
We waited maybe a minute or two at the door for Ronnie’s Dad then Ronnie asked his Mom to watch his bag “I need to go back in for a minute.” Ronnie pulled me back inside the airport running! We reached a somewhat empty corridor then he stopped suddenly. I didn’t know what he was looking for. Then he pushed me up against the wall while holding my hands above my head. He leaned his whole body against me and said “I. Love. You.” and …kissed… me. My legs went so weak he had to hold me up. He laughed and press himself against me more to keep me from sliding down to the floor. He kissed my neck which made my whole body tingle. He had me in such a daze I didn’t remember anything from that point up until we were all in the car and already on the highway home.
His parents were again in the front seat and Ronnie and I were in the back seat. He was talking to about the people had met and the things he did. His voice was so happy. I had never seen or heard him so happy. He held both of my hands the whole way home. At some points he was so excited about what he was saying he spoke with his hands, which meant my hands where flying around too. At one point he stopped talking, took a deep breath, leaned over the front seat and said “I apologize but you have to excuse me for a minute. He smacked the rearview mirror and his Mom looked down at the floor. Then he lurched over me and started kissing me!!! In the car! With his parents!!! Right there!! I soon felt like we were the only two people in the whole world. Then we came up for air. He fixed the mirror one handed since he was still holding on to me with the other hand. I would have died of embarrassment if it weren’t for the fact I was memorized by his kiss and confidence. His parents played it off like nothing had happened and the happy chatter resumed.
I didn’t know what the plans were for after we picked up Ronnie at the airport. I only knew I didn’t want to be anywhere he wasn’t. Before I knew it Ronnie’s Dad parked in front of my house. Huh? He just came back and I had to go home? It was so NOT fair! Ronnie walked me to my door like he had so many times before. This time it was a little different, “Um, Can we go inside?” Heck Yeah! I didn’t want him to leave my side! After we shut the front door Ronnie put one arm around my waist and one hand behind my neck and kissed me like his life depended on it. Just then my Mom came into the front room and in a surprised voice said “Oh, you’re home!” then ran back to the kitchen. Ronnie and I laughed! Then I said “Can’t I go home with you then you drive me back later?” While still holding me tightly he said “Heather, it is later. It is late and I promised to bring you home as soon as we got back. I will see you tomorrow My Love. Heather, you are my one and only love.” He took a deep breath then rubbed his cheek against mine and said “ I. LOVE. YOU.”
Ever so reluctantly we let go of each others hands and he left. Now how is a girl suppose to sleep after all that? It’s a good thing I didn’t fall asleep straight away. Ronnie called. “Sorry about your Mom seeing us kissing but I couldn’t help myself.” He told me about the great reception his sisters gave him. They were suppose to be asleep when he came home but they were too excited about his return. We talked on the phone for about an hour before our voices started to give out. Ronnie reluctantly gave in saying “I will let you sleep for now. I need to see you tomorrow and I want you awake.”