With a hand-made sign only outdone by his smile, Jaylen Walls anxiously searched Tampa International Airport for a face he's waited half a year to see: his mom's.
The 4-year-old boy had been counting down the days until his mother's homecoming with a coffee can full of Hershey's Kisses, carefully unwrapping one of the candies for each day of her deployment.
"Every day, we would open it and take one out and he would eat it. Then he would count the others and he'd say, 'So many more days before Mommy comes home!' " grandmother Vicky Wickey said Tuesday.
Six months later, the can is empty and two hearts are finally full. Staff Sergeant Amber Walls returned home to the Bay area from Afghanistan early Tuesday afternoon.
"I don't think words can express it. It's amazing," Sgt. Walls said upon arriving home on Tuesday.
Her son agrees. Tuesday's the only time the tot's been excited to find his stash of sweets gone.
"When I called this morning, he said, 'There's no more Kisses!" Walls laughed.
From now on, he'll get a real kiss goodnight.
"It's amazing. There are no words for it. His reaction and her reaction. It's just breathtaking," said Walls' cousin, Lindsay Longenecker.
This was Sgt. Walls second deployment overseas. She did her first tour of Afghanistan when her son was just a year old.
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