Odds are, you know someone who serves as a member of the United States military. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard share the common goal of keeping this country safe.
Maybe the person you know is actually a loved one. In that case, you can attest firsthand to the sacrifices our military families make on a daily basis.
The dedication and courage demonstrated by our troops is tremendous. Yet sometimes, we forget that those who wait for them shoulder a heavy burden as well.
Spouses with young children can have a particularly tough time while Mommy or Daddy is away. Certain kids aren’t even old enough to fully comprehend the significance of the situation.
And then, there are the babies. Sometimes, soldiers are deployed before being able to meet their own precious little ones.
Photographer and videographer Grace Navarro wanted to document this difficult experience. According to her website, Navarro first developed an interest in storytelling as a child growing up in Barcelona, Spain.
Navarro’s parents purchased their daughter’s first video camera. Thereafter, she began teaching herself how to frame shots, edit and movingly detail life’s significant moments.
Some of Navarro’s video essays have actually brought social media to tears. One recent example involved a United States Marine named Justin.
With Navarro recording, Justin’s wife Tori summarized their family situation for the camera.
“We definitely did not plan to have babies until he was out of the military,” Tori explained. “We didn’t want for him to miss anything.”
“We found out I was pregnant in September,” recalled Tori, who resides in Ohio. “We knew he was being deployed again.”
Weeping softly, Tori went on to explain how she constantly took photos of her growing belly so her overseas husband could visualize the progression. “He missed out on doctors’ appointments,” she said, adding, “he didn’t get those first kicks, or anything.”
Evidently, the couple had expected Justin to arrive home early from deployment. They found out they were having a daughter, and they’d decided to name her Braylee.
Of course, the proud papa wanted to witness his little girl’s birth firsthand.
Duty intervened, unfortunately — and that highly anticipated homecoming never happened. But Tori and Justin made the best of it, continuously using Skype and sharing smartphone videos.
Justin eventually did get back from deployment. But Tori wasn’t able to travel from Ohio to California with such a tiny newborn in tow.
So they waited patiently for several more weeks, until Justin could fly back to Ohio. Fortunately, Grace Navarro and her camera were right there to capture the breathtaking first meeting between Braylee and her ecstatic daddy.
The moment Justin got off the airplane, he made a beeline for Braylee. He gently took the baby from her mother’s loving embrace, and cradled her miniature form in mesmerized wonder.
Then, as Justin rocked Braylee protectively, spontaneous applause burst out across the terminal.
Tori explained that her husband’s deployments ended shortly after that joyous reunion. She described her immense gratitude at having her family under one roof, saying it felt “like everything is whole again.”
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