08 August 2013

We Came Home

...the two of us did,
along with many others on a Tuesday Delta flight.
I'd been away for a bit over a week, working,
and was returning fatigued but full of ideas.

As the plane pressed on,
I could feel the weight of the "catching up"
that would follow my arrival.
Going through mail, lining up calendars, answering messages,
laundry, lawn, coordinating schedules and reaching even keel
with elementary school work.
I chatted casually with the woman next to me
and we spoke of our children, of our jobs and the states
of our lives-
Our banter was soft and steady,
and I looked occasionally out at the cloud carpet below.

He, on the other hand, was sleeping.
He'd been away far longer than I had,
had been further from home,
and was returning that night to a family worn by waiting.
His presence was such that we didn't know he was there.
No one would have known, in fact, had the captain not
introduced him at the end of the flight
as we pulled quietly up to our gate.

We hushed as the words fell low from the
static and crackle of the speaker system.
In the following moments of that sacred space,
a quiet silence, a breath,
and then a single meeting of palms.
It was soft, the rhythm of awe, but it built impact by impact,
until the scattering of echoes that followed it soon erupted
into a wondrous thundering of applause, from forward to aft,
as we rose to our feet and the tears fell.

We watched his exit through our windows from where we stood.
He was the first off the plane that night,
entering the rain of Raleigh beneath a moonless sky. 
His light, however, reflected off the faces of us all,
and he carried his own stars, and they enveloped him.

I thought of him into the early morning hours,
and yesterday, and today... as I will tomorrow.
The remembrance of his family there, arms open and hands
hugging stripes, the mix of salt and freshwater
converging on cheekbones.
I will never forget the sight.
I will never forget the gratitude.

We came home, the two of us did, along with
many others on that Tuesday Delta flight.
He was sleeping...

and it woke me up.


  1. Oh, Jess. Such potent words that have found you. Thank you for sharing them with us, and gratitude to that man and his family. Healing, comfort, grace.

  2. You touch me and bring me to tears more times than I would admit. May his family find healing and comfort in the love of family and strangers.

  3. Wow. When you come back, you come back with a bang. Beautiful, Jess. Woke me up too.

  4. Incredibly beautiful. You are a gifted writer, Jessica.

  5. Oh, wow, Jessica. Beautiful words that brought me to tears. Thank-you for sharing.

  6. Welcome home beautiful woman!!! You've been missed:O) Beautiful words, as always!! Hugs to the Monkey.

  7. Wow. You write beautifully, and have touched me with this.

  8. moving words & a powerful tribute to a fallen hero. simply breathtaking~ thank you for sharing.

  9. Very powerful ... thanks Jessica

  10. Wow!! Beautiful and eloquent!!! You have an amazing way with words!

  11. Awesome. Enough said. God bless you and all the fsllen. Kepp up the good work.

  12. Bless him and his family.

  13. Oh so moving. Having been married to a soldier....it changes how you look at things. The stars and stripes have more meaning. The national anthem never ceases to bring on tears. God bless his family.

  14. Peace and comfort and strength to his family, and gratitude beyond comprehension for his sacrifice.

  15. This is absolutely beautiful. A beautiful story and beautifully written. My mother shared your post with me. She learned of it through your father whom I grew up listening to on the radio.

  16. Thank you. Your words flow soft and sure, and hit home hard in this piece.

  17. Wow...beautifully said, Jess.

  18. oh. i am so glad you decided to return to your poetic writings.
    you feed my hungry soul.
    you do.

    * love *

  19. Oh! That was beautiful. Gratitude, and prayers for him and his.

  20. Thank him and thank you too.

  21. Beautiful. You are so gifted with your words.
    Those of us who follow you are so blessed.
    Thank you.

  22. Wow, beautifully written. Bless you and bless that soldiers family.

  23. Well, this made me cry. Thank you, Jess, for waking us all up.

  24. Absolutely beautiful. I had to share this with my friends.... We all need to stop and give thanks that men and women take the oath fight for our freedom and some give all.

  25. The memorial service for this sailor was as beautiful and meaningful as your words. His presence for 22 years on earth touched many hearts in life and death. thank you for honoring him.

    1. Thank you for telling me.... thank you for sharing that....

  26. Not only are you a talented metal artist, but an incredible writer. What a wake up call to all of us. County our blessings people. Count our blessings.

  27. As I read I was smiling, smiling as someone gone a long time greets his loving family. I was thinking a soldier deployed for many months was finally returning home.
    And he was.
    The picture started to blur as the tears began.
    Certainly not the ending I was imagining.
    Thank you soldier for your sacrifice

  28. Oh Jessica, your words inspire and ignite, thank you.

  29. Beautifully told, Jessica. Very moving...

  30. This is still one of my favorite pieces of writing. Do you have the image hosted somewhere? It's beautiful Jess ♥️


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