SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) – It was an emotional reunion Tuesday for a South Florida father who returned home from deployment days before Christmas.
His five-year-old daughter had no idea he was home until he surprised her at school.
The young girl is a student at The Creative Learning Center in Southwest Miami-Dade and was surprised by her dad Tuesday after not seeing him for seven months.
U.S. Army Master Sergeant Christopher Cooke surprised his daughter, who is in Pre-Kindergarten, during the school’s holiday show.
“A lot of emotions. Nervous. Excited. Happy. Scared. I didn’t want to blow the moment,” Cooke said.
Cooke arrived a day early but stayed with his in-laws in Miami.
“I stayed with her parents, my in-laws, so we can be together on this day and I could see her at this assembly,” Cooke said.
Cooke has been in the Army for 22 years. He will retire in two weeks. For the last seven months, he has been stationed in Seattle.
The father of two last saw his loved ones in person when his son was born seven months ago. The family typically travels with Cooke. However, because of the newborn and his daughter starting school, the family decided that dad should travel alone.
Now, everyone is back together again.
“Oh I couldn’t help my tears. I couldn’t help it,” Jessica Layne said.
Layne helped plan the surprise at her daughter’s Christmas show. She is thrilled her family is back together.
“It has been a long time. Every day I think about my family,” Cooke said.
As for Cooke’s daughter, this was her Christmas wish, which of course came earlier than expected.