Monday, February 14, 2011

Everything O'Donnell

Yesterday, we enjoyed the tremendous honor of being invited to the West Palm Beach airport to welcome home Neil O'Donnell, soldier and friend. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience.

Shortly after Daniel passed away last year, I was having lunch with friends Bridget and Tabitha when Bridget announced to us, "I'm pregnant." In the next breath, she followed up this fabulous surprise with news that her husband, Neil, had just been deployed to Iraq for one year and would be leaving within the month. Our hearts jumped for joy and sank at the same time. Imagining Bridget and her two children going through this pregnancy alone and knowing that Neil wouldn't be present to see his child come into this world was heartbreaking, to say the least.  We vowed that we would take Bridget under our wings and keep her very busy. Our job turned out to be fairly easy as the family traveled during the Fall and relatives seemed to always be flowing in and out of town to visit them.

They had planned for Neil to take his two-week hiatus and come home to visit in February playing the odds that both Lauren (5) and Jack (3) had been born prematurely. They figured that Bridget would be home from the hospital by now and that Neil would have some time to settle in with his family and new addition.

This is when the story gets really good. Bridget was due last Friday and that baby hadn't budged one bit. He was so perfectly content in her belly that he must have decided to hold out for his Daddy to come home. And so, we all fought back the tears yesterday watching such a tender and heartwarming reunion between Neil and his children and his very pregnant wife, Bridget, knowing that he will be present for his son's birth. Upon orders of the doctor, they are inducing Bridget today. What a beautiful Valentine's Day to remember for the O'Donnell family.

Only by the Grace of God...

Madi loved and embraced her first "hero's welcome". So did we.  We are thankful that we were included in such a blessed and meaningful event.

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