Around you, people moved and talked, dragging rolling luggage and crying children, ringing cellphones and tickets. You stood still in the middle of the moving streams, eyes open wide as you waited for him. Your daughter, who reminded you of him every day he was gone, wrapped her arms tighter around your neck.
“Is Daddy here yet?” she asked softly into your ear. You shook your head, hair ruffling over her face.
“Not yet, sweetheart. His plane should be here soon.”
Each second felt like an hour, a heartbeat lasting what felt like a year. Scenarios played out in your head; the plane exploding, someone with a gun, a stern faced man coming to tell you that something went wrong, that he was dead. Horrible things, all leading to you never seeing him again, ideas that made you want to run to your own mother and cry.
Fifteen minutes later, the door opened and people slowly walked out, stretching their legs after the seven hour flight, looking for loved ones or their next connecting flight. You stood on tiptoes, peaking around, trying to see those eyes you loved, his smile, anything.
Suddenly, your daughter let go of your neck and flung herself to the ground. “Daddy!” she cried, arms open wide, a grin splitting her face. Her short legs pushed her around and past people into his waiting arms.
There he knelt, arms enveloping her, head resting against hers. He was dressed in the dusty brown camouflage outfit you’d last seen him in when he left. “Hey baby,” you heard him say as you ran forward.
He looked up and saw you and immediately stood, one arm holding your daughter, the other open for you to run into. You flung your arms around his middle, head snuggling warm into his chest. With a grip that promised never to let you go, he hugged you closer, burying his face into your neck, breathing deep.
“Here are my two girls,” he whispered in your ear. “I missed you so much.”
You looked up at him, touching foreheads. He smiled at you and moved forward to kiss you but your hands came up to cup his face. He looked confused for a moment but you ran your fingertips down his jaw, over his temples, and by his eyes, re-memorizing his features.
“Just… give me a second,” you breathed to him.
He knew what you meant even without you saying it. “I’m here,” he assured you. “I’m real.”
You felt tears start to run down your face as you grinned. “It’s about damn time.”
He laughed and finally crashed his lips to yours, and with an arm around you and one around your daughter, he spun you around as you all basked in the joy of finally being together again.