Kind of appropriate that our kitchen was decked out with our traditional “heart-attack” hearts for Valentine’s Day (more about that back HERE).
Max’s chart of what seemed like a gazillion dots (one for each day he was gone) had finally been filled up:
And then there we were: the day of his return.
(We had been changing that chalk number every day in anticipation.)
Elle arrived home on the red-eye that morning (hooray!), the girls went off to school and bounded back in time to freak out with excitement that we should be leaving.
En route to the airport we found out Max’s flight from LA was going to come in 20 minutes early, so we were glad we had been so giddy and were going to be there as early as we were.
I had asked my sister-in-law Kara to bring her camera…she’s an awesome photographer (check out her blog HERE), and I knew I’d be too excited to capture much with my camera.
And it was a good thing I asked her because it turns out Elle took my memory card out of my camera after I had double checked it was there and the battery was charged…I guess she was taking pictures of something else and didn’t realize I’d want it??
So when I tried to take a picture at the airport and all there was showing up was a black square that said “no card,” I was so glad Kara was there with her camera and her skills. All of these next pictures are from her and I cannot ever thank her enough. She captured moments we will treasure forever and ever. Love you Kara!
Also, Grace’s friend Aubrey offered to come take a video months ago so we told her “sure!” And her excitement to record that event lasted clear up until this day so she was there in the background capturing everything. We didn’t want to make it a big, dramatic deal (even though it was!), but we knew although we wanted it recorded none of us wanted to worry about taking pictures. But you would hardly even know Aubrey was there and what she produced for us is something that we will cherish for the rest of our lives as well. Nothing like being able to re-live such a precious moment in time over and over again…which we have. Video in a minute…for now let’s just look at these pictures from Kara.
Gradually all the cousins showed up…
And THEN…we saw him.
Let’s just ignore me and how funny I look in that spotlight and bask in the expressions of those excited girls.
Oh boy…the moment we’d all been waiting for. This is one of my favorite pictures (below) because just look at all those faces:
A lot of happiness right there…not sure how Dave and Elle kept their composure back there so well.
…because there he was right in front of us in flesh and blood.
I mentioned before that we had had a little family meeting and had determined I would get to have the first hug. But that stinker Lucy snuck right in there before me and let’s just check out the joy on that face of hers about that little maneuver:
Aw, a face like that makes me pretty happy to give up that first hug.
Then it was my turn:
Now, let’s just say that no amount of words and pictures in the whole wide world could possibly explain how that hug felt. So much leading up to that moment, so much worry, so much anticipation, so many fervent prayers sent up to Heaven, so much “missing,” so much gratitude all mixed up into one long-awaited hug of a mother and her son.
And then everyone joined in which somehow made that joy explode even more.
Whole and sure and encircled in so much love.
And then everyone was talking at once, laughing and smiling and feeling like we could fly if we wanted to.
Let’s watch the video clip of that family hug because it’s my favorite.
Oh I love it. I love how Max is watching for Dave, and how Dave joins in and then that head rub at the end.
Then we let him see all his cousins who had been waiting patiently…
Let’s just look at this face:
I know I’m biased but to me there’s a lot of light beaming from that good, tired (I don’t think he had slept in 36 hours and had some pretty long flights and layovers) handsome face.
Let’s check out this sibling hug when Max left two years ago:
…and then this week:
I love thinking of how much everyone has grown…in SO many different ways over the past two years.
See this picture?
He’s had a captive audience ever since he got back.
Those sisters cannot get enough of him. It’s tough for them to go to school and go to lessons…they don’t ever want to leave his side.
Let’s be honest, it’s tough for us parents too. We just can’t get enough.
Pure happiness right there.
Mixed all in with so much gratitude and wonder.