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A Little Homecoming

This guest post is from Jeneil Russell, wife of army pilot Brandon Russell, mother of two girls named Rhema and Hope and blogger. Her oldest daughter Rhema is on the autism spectrum. You can read this post on Jeneil's blog Rhema's Hope here

Brandon is home for 2 weeks. He’s been deployed for 7 months and has 5 more to go. I wanted to tell you about his reunion with the girls yesterday.

Hope thought I would be visiting her classroom so we could Skype with him. Her class has sent him letters and pictures in the past so she thought this was a great idea. When I got there, I pretended to call him through the iPad but I really was recording Hope. She just assumed that her poor mother was technologically challenged and attempted to take the iPad from me so that she could call her Dad. And that’s when he appeared…! It was a good reunion.

Afterwards, each of Hope’s classmates came up and gave her a hug. Just mush.

Then we went to Rhema’s school. She was having a snack and she didn’t move from her chair when she saw him. She just grinned and chuckled like she was in on the best joke ever. That alone thrilled my heart. Rhema rarely shows emotion in her face and eyes. And sometimes I don’t realize how much I’ve missed her smiles and giggles until I see and hear them again. We’ll do just about anything for Rhema-joy.

Then she went right to him and gave him a backwards hug.


My video recording is horrid. And I cut out a lot of video because it contains the faces of other kids. But below is a taste of what our day was like. One incredible moment we did not capture on video was when we were leaving the cafeteria at Rhema’s school. Brandon really wanted her to know that he was only leaving for a couple hours and that she would see him again shortly. He kept trying to tell her this because he always worries when he’s been gone for a long time — he never wants her to think he has left her. Finally, reluctantly he turned to walk out of the room. And she said as clear and engaged and purposeful and beautiful as I’ve ever heard her say anything: “Bye.”



The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.