The tale for today actually started on Friday afternoon.  Knowing that I’d be picking Chase up at the airport a little after midnight, I wanted to get things planned out.  I called the airport to ask about getting a gate pass to meet Chase at the gate.  I wanted my moment of seeing my soldier come down the jetway and watching my kids run toward home.  Moments like that are one of the perks of deployment.  Well, the airport is not in charge of all that.  So I called the airline.  They told me they don’t give out gate passes at that airport.  That was not the answer I was looking for.  And didn’t give the rest of the info I wanted.  The info that told me how early I should arrive to get my pass and get through security.  But I’ve done this before.  It took like ten minutes and then I spent a whole lot of time sitting in the terminal trying to entertain a two-year-old.  This time we’d be a the airport way after bedtime, meaning my children would either be tired and cranky, or bouncing off the walls.  I didn’t want to spend an hour at the gate.  So I planned to give myself about 20 minutes for getting the pass and getting through security.

When I got to the airport, I found the flaw in my planning.  I factored for a small airport with about 14 gates.  This airport is an international airport.  Not only that, but midnight things are just picking up at this airport.  The lines at all the ticketing counters were full to the brim, and that included the airline my husband was on.  I was slightly daunted, we had about 30 minutes to get to the passes and get through security.  But you can’t get your moment if you give up.  I knew if we missed the plane we’d meet at the baggage claim, it’s not like we would miss him if we made the wrong decision.  Plus, if we weren’t trying to get to the gate we’d just be sitting around bored.  After about 5 minutes waiting to get to the ticket counter, Clara had to go potty.  She was wearing underwear.  That was not a moment her needs could be pushed to the side.  So I gave up my place in line (granted at the time we were still the last people, so it wasn’t like we gave up progress).  Turned out to be a false alarm.  But during the amount of time it took to go to the bathroom, try, and wash our hands, several more people had gotten in the line.  When we finally got to the counter it was five minutes till midnight.  The lady at the counter gave me two options.  Wait five minutes and get a pass stamped with the next days stamp, or get the passes now and try to get through security by midnight.  Chase’s plane was to arrive at 12:11.  I decided to give the get through security by midnight plan a try.  We got the passes and ran to security.  I was worried when I saw the long line, but I decided to look around and see if there might be a shorted line I could go through.  Then I saw the families with small children line.  I decided that I would at least try to declare Clara a small child.  That line was much shorter.  And to be a most wonderful line, the other families in line wanted us to succeed as well and we quickly made it to the head of the line.  As we were getting ready to walk through the new full body scanner-magiggy thing the security lady told us not to go through there.  I stepped over to where she told us to go, ready to fight my children getting patted down.  But TSA was feeling nice to the woman with the young kids.  Instead of trying to make my children stand still in the full body thingy, we were sent through the old-fashioned metal detector.  Score one for TSA.  We glanced at the clock as we put on our shoes.  12:02, we’d done it.  Then to find out gate.  As I looked at the arrival list, I saw his plane had already arrived.  I forgot that they still had to taxi and then you still don’t immediately get off the plane.  I was worried that Chase might already be headed toward baggage claim.  But I decided to keep on.  I told the boys to be on the lookout for guys in uniform as we passed people headed toward the exit.  We raced to the gate, and there was nobody coming off.  I sighed thinking we’d missed him, but I asked the attendant if they had gotten off.  No, they hadn’t.  They were just about to though.

We stood in front of the door (and slightly off to the side so that others could pass) and waited.  There was another lady there waiting for her husband.  We got excited when we was the distinctive deployed uniform pattern.  When we finally saw the head, it wasn’t Chase.  But I was sure it was the other’s lady’s guy.  He walked right past all of us.  But hey, there were three more uniforms on the way.  When they weren’t Chase either, Clara began to cry.  She wanted her Daddy.  Finally, the other lady’s guy came.  They had their movie moment, he swept her off her feet with a kiss to the clapping of the passengers waiting to board.  Then more soldiers came off the plane.  Finally, it was our turn.  The boys were excited to see Daddy, but didn’t know what to do.  Clara was torn between wanting to run to Chase, and wanting to make sure it was Daddy before she ran.  I encouraged them all to run.  As they ran down the jet way other passengers got out of the way for their reunion.  I, of course, started to cry.  I was so choked up I couldn’t even say “hi.”

In the past I would have given up after the phone call that said they didn’t do that.  Or at any point it looked like we might not succeed.  But this time I persevered.  I was richly rewarded by doing so.  I am so glad we had our at the gate moment.