Wow

Wow

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

Wow

Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.

Eckhart Tolle

It’s no big deal. It’s only six months. We’ve been through this before! I must have told myself this a thousand times over the last six months. Now the day is here. As I drive through the ribbon-festooned streets of Camp Lejeune to the reunion site, my heart is pounding and my stomach is jumpy. I glance down at my clothes and wonder if they complement my figure. I check my makeup in the mirror and wipe the mascara that is already running.

Finally, I find a place to park and see that the crowd is forming. No definite time, no surprise, just a cattle call for between ten and six. (I was there at nine.) It’s June, and it’s hot. I see a friendly face and take a seat. The usual conversation begins. “Are you excited?” “What do you think he’s going to say?” “When did you talk to him last?” You see, to some, six months is long; to others, six months is longer. Of course I am excited. I have no idea what he’s going to say! The last question, I think, was to check up on her husband. If mine called me, why didn’t hers call her? (I’ve been there.)

There’s always something new to tell or show someone after half a year: a new bedspread, a new pet, a new baby. Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention that I’m nine months pregnant? My friend had a baby the month after our husbands left. We were both scared. That jumpy stomach feeling is back. Our little girl can sense my anxiety. Now I’m regretting that Pop-Tart.

As I glance down at the woman’s small baby, I start to cry again. At least my husband will be here in time to see her born. Ouch! Okay, not funny—contraction! Just a Braxton-Hicks one, I know, but still, wouldn’t that be something? “Well, honey, you almost made it in time!” I grab a drink of water, to take the edge off, or does that saying only apply to hard liquor?

I didn’t sleep much last night, and although it’s bright and hot, I find myself starting to doze. I take one more look down the parking lot: no buses. As soon as I start to close my eyes, someone screams; now I hear laughter. I snap my eyes open and look again: still nothing. I notice everyone is looking in the opposite direction. It’s a dirt road and there are three big trucks and a line of buses coming up from behind for a sneak attack. It works!

Well, my nap long forgotten, I jump up—okay, not jump, more like awkwardly slide—out of my chair. After much scrambling and waddling about, I decide it will be much easier if I stand still. So, I wait by the sea of green sea bags. I run my fingers through my hair and smooth my new pink shirt over my belly, and then I remember. Oh no! I’m pregnant! For some absurd reason, I try to suck in my gut. All I achieve by that is to anger the baby, and am punished by a swift kick to the ribs and a head butt to the bladder. Note to self: Don’t try that again. So, I stand there and wait.

Finally, the mass of green camouflage starts to thin as other wives snatch their husbands out of line. Over someone’s head, I see familiar eyes. Exactly the same, yet somehow different. It could be that he’s tanned, or, no . . . tears?! Surely not. But as he draws closer I see him bite his lower lip. It’s true! As if in an old movie, time slows down. I see his eyes flicker to my stomach and widen. I search for something profound to say, and I’m sure he does as well. All I can do is protectively place my hands over my baby and hope her daddy doesn’t turn away and run screaming at the impending responsibility. He does just the opposite. He drops his bags and pulls my body as close as possible and whispers a small but heartfelt word: “Wow.”

Amy Hollings worth

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