Teresa Melton-Strader knew that when her son, Matthew, joined the Air Force after graduating from high school, his new parents would be the U.S. military, but realizing this would be the first Christmas without him in his 19 years of life was difficult for her.
The nurse at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas has had a trying three years. In 2015, she lost her father after he had a stroke. The next year, her husband, Terry Melton, passed away at the age of 51 from cancer. Then, in 2017, Melton-Strader’s home in Texas was destroyed by a tornado.
“We weren’t lucky to be alive — we were blessed to be alive,” Melton-Strader told Dallas news station WFAA after the storm.
The past year was one of rebuilding. Melton-Strader found a new home and remarried. In the same year, Matthew joined the military. “It’s something that he’s wanted to do all his life,” Melton-Strader told the outlet. “Still, it’s a big change having your child leave home.”
Matthew is stationed in Montana, 1,500 miles from home, and Melton-Strader believed it would be her first Christmas without him. However, he planned a surprise so that wouldn’t be the case.
On Thursday, Melton-Strader was called into a “staff meeting” at work — and was shocked to see her son standing there. “Hi mom!” he said.
All Melton-Strader could ask was, “Are you really here?!”
“There are no words. When you lose people that you love,” Melton-Strader said, “you realize how important the people you do love are. You don’t know when you’re going to get another Christmas, and you don’t know when you’re going to have those special times. I’m just very thankful to have him here.”
She took to Facebook on Friday to post a photo of her son, asleep in his bed. “That lump under the covers makes me so happy,” she wrote.
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