“You were absolutely wonderful, sweetheart!” The woman knelt down in front of the young child, securing her camera back around her neck. With a smile, she reached out and pushed back the blond curls that framed her daughter’s face. “Are you ready to be done with our little photoshoot now?”
“Yes, mommy,” the child replied, her little crooked grin lighting up the porch. After a moment, her focus returned to the treasure she held tightly against her sweater. With obvious determination etched across her sweet face, she handed it back to her mother. “I don’t want to drop it and break it.”
“Yes, that would make all of us very sad.” Standing up, the woman approached one of the porch banisters and set the lantern there, a sly smile creeping up on her lips. “Let’s keep it lit up here for daddy to see when he comes home.”
Before the child could respond, the distant sound of crunching gravel came to their ears. As it quickly drew closer, the distinct barking of their German shepherds excitedly let the girls on the back porch know of the friendly visitor that was drawing near. The young girl squealed and clapped her hands, then flew across the dimly-lit yard, her mother on her heels.
In the seconds that followed, the pickup truck was parked and a handsome man hopped out, joyfully welcoming his girls back into his arms.
“Daddy!” the little girl cried as he picked her up and tousled her soft hair. “You’re finally home!”
With tears of his own streaming down his cheeks, he gave his wife a kiss, then transferred the military hat he wore to the head of his daughter. “It has been too long, sweetheart,” he whispered, drawing his family closer to his heart. “But I’m finally home.”