Last December, as a combo-Christmas card, we received a save-the-date request to attend Tony’s cousin’s wedding in Michigan on 5/28. This particular cousin is the 5th of 6 siblings, and we attended her older sister’s wedding a few years ago. There is one more sibling who plans to get married next year, probably in August, he says. We’re already tentatively planning to attend that wedding, too, because we had such a great time this trip.
This family is one of those that leaves you with a warm feeling in your heart when you encounter them. No muss, no fuss, kind, genuinely caring and interested in you, creative, builders, and unstoppable. I cannot say enough good things about these people. They face tragedy, loss, snowmobile accidents, therapy, chemotherapy with an attitude that seems to say quietly, “this is part of our life now and we will look for the blessings in it.” All of that to share just how much I debated with myself about affording the airfare to go back, but the scale in my mind was tipped to going because I very much wanted to see how their projects had progressed since our last visit, plus… as strong as a person is inside, life is still tenuous and fragile. I wanted to grasp seeing these amazing people again, because we never know what our future holds.
So, we embarked on our ticket purchase, our vacation requests, our planning. We even acquired our passports in case we decided to do a day trip up into Canada. We packed and strategized, I kicked myself for purchasing a ticket for a flight time of 6:45 in the morning with a 4 year old in tow.
It was totally a non-issue, though, as it turned out. We took him out of his bed and in his Darth Vader jammies to the airport. A friend had given him a carry-on bag with Darth Vader’s face, so that was quite a funny thing to see. The kindness of strangers — people in line in front and behind me, helped move our luggage forward (Tony had gone to park the car before check-in). Gratefully, William did really well and was SO EXCITED to be going on adventure that he engaged everyone around us (instead of yelling in my ear), there was no way he was going back to sleep. How quickly time moves, for I remember just a couple years ago, I could nurse him on the plane and he would fall asleep because of the drone of the engine and the magic that is breastmilk (aka “nah-nahs”), but even that didn’t work this time. William was WIDE AWAKE. Although I did think about offering that poor child in the back of the plane some nah-nahs because every time the elevation changed a millimeter, that poor baby screamed bloody murder. I assumed he was teething — around 18 months, snotty nose, watery eyes — I really wanted to cry for him and for his poor mommy.
Our flight was delayed out of Orange County, and there were worried passengers throughout the plane. The flight attendant walked the aisle 3 or 4 times checking connection times. She had me worried, because our connection was short at 30 minutes and we had to go from C terminal (where we would land) to F terminal (for our connection). I finally realized that half the plane was going on the same connecting flight as us, and when I asked if any of the first class passengers were, she laughed at me. I shrugged and smiled. I’ve seen planes held and the Mercedes on the tarmac drive one of my bosses who has status with United Air, so it was a totally reasonable question. Fortunately, we made it with time to spare and our connecting flight actually filled up completely and we departed 4 minutes early.
I made sure to crowd Tony in his seat and violate his personal space by leaning on him every chance I got. He did the same to me. We were mimicking a girl across the aisle who had the window seat and the guy in the middle seat had fallen asleep and kept leaning on her, and with a look of distaste on her face, she would push him back to his seat.
We arrived in Grand Rapids, MI, without further ado, and as we landed, William declared, “I love Michigan. It’s so beautiful. Look at all the grass and the trees! It’s so GREEN!” We decided to stay in Holland for our first night and see a bit of the town the next morning, before heading up to the tip the next day.
–To Be Continued —