I was near hyperventilation when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I whipped around thinking it was Cayden and somehow he'd snuck up around me with me seeing. Good thing I didn't jump on the tapper, because it turned out to be a blonde woman with a concerned but friendly look.
"Sorry to startle you," she said. "But are you waiting on someone from the Frankfurt flight?"
"I am!" I nearly screamed, causing her to take a step back.
"Oh thank god. I'm waiting for someone, too, and I thought I was the only one left waiting for that flight."
That struck up quite a conversation, which at least helped pass the time, although I kept looking past her to the doors while we were talking. Turns out, she was waiting on a 16-year-old French boy who was flying in to take a storm-chasing tour with her company. There was supposed to be some nasty weather headed our way. If only we'd known how nasty. She mentioned her daughter was in Rome on her spring break, which spurred conversation about Janiculum, gelato, and the Colosseum. Her daughter just happened to be a senior at OU, so I made a mental note to ask my brother if he knew a Courtney Greenflower? Greenbower? Greenleaf?
"I really hope he didn't already walk past me and I didn't see him. Have you seen a teenage boy who looks very French? Probably wearing a scarf?" She asked me with nervous eyes. "What if I lost him??" Her voice started to reach a panicked pitch.
"Don't worry. The information desk is right there," I said, pointing to our left. "If he couldn't find you, he'd wait there."
Our anxiety got the best of us and we stopped talking to stare at the doors.
"What if I lost him? He doesn't even speak English! Do you know French? How am I going to call his Dad and say, 'Sorry, I lost your son!'"
"Is that him?!" I asked, excitedly, pointing to a short brown-haired kid who was walking through the doors with big, wondering eyes.
Her eyes lit up. She help up her sign that said "Storm Chasing Tour" and got his attention. He nodded and headed her way. She breathed a sigh of relief.
"Good luck!" the woman told me before walking away with the French boy.
I abandoned my spot near the doors and headed to the end of the barricades so I wouldn't have to hurdle it when I spotted him.
I female voice behind me was telling another person how she was waiting for her boyfriend. He was a soldier returning from the Middle East.
No. I thought. I can't watch that. I can't watch their reunion. I'll never recover. Cayden better get here before the soldier.
I watched a YouTube video once that showed soldiers reuniting with their families and I cried every time I remembered it for at least a week after. I still tear up to this day when I think about it. Those reunions remind me that I actually have it easy. I don't have to worry about whether Cayden is dead of alive, whether he's being shot at or safely hidden. I don't have to wait for a phone call once a week. I shouldn't complain that I only get to talk to Cayden for a few minutes every morning and then a few chats here and there on Gchat. Others have it much, much worse. And I don't know how they do it. If I could pat them all on the back I would. I wouldn't be strong enough to be in their shoes.
The doors slid open again, and I braced myself to see a man in uniform. But instead I saw a man wearing navy blue cargo pants and a fitted T shirt. It was my man. It was Cayden.
Our eye met and my smile spread so wide and so fast across my face, I thought my cheeks were going to rip. Before I knew it, I was almost halfway to him. I'd taken off, just like those little kids reaching out for their returning dad, only I wasn't screaming "Daddy! Daddy!"
In two more strides, we were together. Pressed against each other as hard and as tight as possible. I buried my face in his shirt and tried not to cry, remembering the woman awaiting her soldier. She had a right to cry. I needed to lock it up.
I inhaled his familiar scent and melted against him. His arms wrapped around me so tightly I almost couldn't breathe. I didn't need to breathe. I could have died happy right then. He pulled me away just enough to look down at me and tilt my chin up.
"Finally," he said, right before he kissed me.
The kiss wasn't too graphic, considering we had quite an audience, but it wasn't a quick one, either. It made my lips tingle, my heart beat faster, and for a few seconds I thought I might actually be floating.
When we broke apart, I punched him in the arm.
"Don't ever make me wait that long, punk! I thought you died!"
He wrapped an arm around me and led me down the aisle toward the exit.
"It wasn't my fault! Homeland Security stopped me twice! I got pulled into a little room here and in Germany and questioned. I swear, it's my last name."
I wasn't surprised. He was always questioned. They usually left him alone after they found out he had the highest level of security clearance when he was an intelligence analyst in the Royal Air Force. I told him he should change his name to Intelligence-Analyst-in-Royal-Air-Force-And-I-Dare-You-To-Question-Me.
With his arm around me, I didn't have a care in the world. I wasn't thinking about work, which usually occupied my mind 24-7. I wasn't thinking about how we still didn't have a lawn mower or patio furniture and everyone was coming over in a few hours. And I wasn't thinking about when I'd see him next. Because he was right there in front of me. And I wanted it to stay that way forever.