As soon as I was free of the plane, I grabbed my cell phone and turned it on to see if it had retained any charge after a week’s dormancy. It did. I dialed my husband’s phone and briskly walked towards the escalators, scanning the crowd for my family as I went. The phone rang once and he picked up the line.
“Where are you?” he asked.
“I am just coming off the escalators,” I replied.
“Oh, I see you now!” he said “Look to your left!”
I turned around and spotted him with our other three children. Fortunately, the airport was not crowded on that floor, because when the children saw me, they began to run full tilt.
“Mommy!” they cried “You’re back!”
Beaming, I just lowered myself into linebacker position and awaited the onslaught. They reached my outstretched arms in birth order, one after the other. I hugged them tightly and covered their faces with kisses.
“Oh, I missed you guys. I am so glad to be home. Now, let me say hello to your Daddy.”
The man I love took me into his arms and then, at last, I was truly home.
It was mid-November in Tennessee, and as we exited the building I was hit with a shocking blast of cold air. I began shaking and continued to do so off and on for two days. I had become accustomed to the Caribbean heat and could not help but feel sorry for my daughters that they would enter their new world at such a frigid time of year.
The ride home was loud and joyous. I sat in front with my husband and held the digital camera over my shoulder so the kids could see photos and video of their sisters.
We arrived home and I walked from room to room, savoring famillar sights and smells as Michael wistfully looked at the pictures and video of his daughters over and over again.
I spent time with the children until bedtime and as I kissed them goodnight, I could not help but think of Claudine and Roseline as they prepared for bed so far away. “Would anyone kiss them goodnight?” I wondered. “Does Roseline have sheets on her bed? Is her diaper clean? Are they afraid or longing for comfort?”
“Do they think of me at all?”
It was the first hint of an angst that would grow into a monster all its own over the next several weeks. I had no idea of it yet, but The Wilderness was about to get darker.
*All photography and writing on this site are the property of Sherri Gragg unless otherwise noted.