White Family Celebrates Emotional Holiday Season
Posted December 26, 2003 11:43 a.m. EST
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — It has been several months since Sgt. Gerald White returned from Afghanistan.
At 13 months old, Savannah White took her first steps. Her father was home to see them.
"I was jumping up and down, hooping and hollering," Sgt. White said.
During his deployment to Afghanistan, Sgt. White missed a lot of Savannah's firsts. He has spent his time recently catching up with Savannah and stepdaughter Ashley.
The 82nd Airborne soldier has been trying to make up for lost time while still remaining very busy at work. He has cherished every moment at home, knowing he could deploy to Iraq soon after the New Year.
"It is really hard," he said. "I don't think, emotionally, you can be prepared for it. There's nothing like being separated for six months, or however long your deployment is supposed to last."
Gerald's wife, Angela, said a second deployment would be easier than the first. She's preparing for the possibility, while still getting used to Gerald being home from his last trip.
"That's the biggest thing to me," she said, "him trying to help around the house, and me adjusting to him being here again and helping."
Having her stepfather back in the house has been very easy for 7-year-old Ashley. Angela said Ashley's behavior has improved and that she is all smiles.
"I'm really happy," Ashley said.
Happy at home, Gerald and Angela said their love for each other is stronger than ever.
"You realize what you can lose, especially over there with rocket attacks, and you know what you have at the house," Gerald said.
You hear it happening post-war, and it is true with the Whites: Nine months after Gerald's return, Angela and he will be welcoming a new addition to the family.
With a baby on the way, the Whites feel blessed and humble this holiday season.
"Having us all together again," Angela said. "I couldn't ask for anything more than to be with my husband and children for Christmas."
Said Gerald: "Seeing my family every day -- that's what I'm most thankful for, and remembering those who still are not around."