Monday, January 6, 2014

The emotional roller coaster of airports

Credit

We drove Mom to the airport on the weekend and she took a midnight flight home.

Sigh. 

She snagged a nasty virus when she was here and you know how it is – when you're under the weather, there's no place you'd rather be than in your own bed. So I will miss her and I wish she had of stayed longer but if there's one thing I've learned over the years is there's no point trying to talk people into doing something they don't want to do.

It was freezing Saturday night. I mean really freezing. With windchill, the temperature was -44C (which is -47 F). It was so cold that my coat froze and crinkled the moment I stepped out of the Jeep.

Dave said his good-byes at the curb and waited in the vehicle while I went with Mom to get her boarding pass and check her luggage. Then I waited to make sure she got through security without getting arrested. (Little old ladies are the worst, I hear – they're the ones most likely to have balloons full of heroin up their bums.)

The line was quite long and I must have waited for 20 minutes or more. Every once in a while she'd turn around and I'd wave and she'd wave and I'd make some kind of stupid face, while other "waiters" around me did the same thing with their travelling loved ones.

All around me people were saying good-bye. Christmas vacation was over and there were a lot of students going back to school. A family next to me was having a hard time letting their daughter go, especially the father.

"I'm sorry I was grumpy," he said. "I'm so sorry."

I peeked to my left and saw his middle-aged and bespectacled face buried in her shoulder, tears pouring down his ruddy cheeks.

"It's OK, Dad, it's OK. I love you," she said, which made him cry harder.

"I love you, too," he sobbed.  "I'm going to miss you so much."

My heart, already aching by my own mother's imminent departure, absolutely melted and my eyes welled up with snotiferous ugly tears. (Yeah that's a word.)

The airport is a vast cavern of opposite and deep emotion.

There's the arrivals gate, which you should go to if you need a pick-me-up. The tears shed here are made of distilled happiness as family, friends and lovers are reunited in arms flung open in joy. There are exceptions, of course – the tired business traveller, or the lonely singleton who hurries by the happy families with eyes fixed studiously on the floor. But, for the most part, especially during the holidays, the arrivals gate is the best place on earth to find actual happy people and be infected by the contagion of their brilliant smiles.

Then there's departures, where the same people, weeks later, are saying good-bye to the individuals they love the most. The people walking away from here are openly crying, or trying desperately to hold back their tears.

When my mom finally got through security, she waved one last time, then disappeared into the crowd.

I turned away and gave in to suffocating emotion.

21 comments:

  1. And shared those emotions (the good and the bad) with me. I am all misty here. Drat you.

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    1. My work here is done. *laughs an evil laugh*

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  2. Midnight isn't the happiest time to be out catching a plane, either! Glad you had Dave to drive you home and Mom had her bed to look forward to.

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    1. No, it's not! I was hoping she'd sleep on the plane but I think she was too wound up. Me, I can sleep anywhere, anytime. I've slept all across this country many times!

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  3. Verklempt. :'( I remember the last time I flew, when I visited Russell in March of 2011, and he drove me to the airport. I thought he went back to his vehicle while I was in the security line, crying my eyes out. I turned to look back and there he was. That made me cry even harder.

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    1. Oooh, I like the way you did the cry thing with the apostrophe...

      Isn't it nice that you and Russell share a roof now? Even though he travels, it's nice to have him home with you, I bet.

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    2. Oh definitely. Those first 6 months when we were 3200 miles apart were rough.

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  4. I hope Dave gave you a big hug in the Jeep. And a Kleenex. Before you snotted all over his vehicle.

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  5. I hate airports. You must've had snotcycles on your nose when you got out of there. Sadly beautiful writing, Cathy.

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  6. Snotiferous tears here too...dang it.

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    1. I love that word ... snotiferous... should be in the dictionary, methinks.

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  7. The cold temperatures finally caught up with us in River City. Planes sitting on the tarmac because they can't get into wherever they want to go (likely Toronto). People waiting for a day (or two or three) to get on to a plane. More tears of frustration than anything else.

    Stay safe in the cold of Cold Lake, Cathy!

    Blessings and warm Bear hugs!

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    1. It's just "plane" cold everywhere, Monsieur Bear! You stay warm too!

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  8. Now I'm all "misty" over here! Great post, Cathy.

    I hope your Mom is safe at home and feeling better.

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    1. She is! Made it home safe and sound and happy, too, I think. Thanks Madeline!

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  9. I remember trying valiantly to hold it all together whilst waving my 18 year old daughter off to Brazil for 6 months. Eventually she passed the 'point of no return' and was gone and I just dissolved into a blubbering quivering mess. Then two minutes later she appeared beside me - there were delays and they'd been sent back to the terminal. Although I was glad to see her, I had to go through all the separation emotions all over again half an hour later.

    It's always hard to say farewell - but it's an emotional milestone and that's what makes us human, I guess

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    1. That would have been hard - going through it twice. (Hugs)

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  10. I am so sorry... all that crying must have been hell once you got out into the -47 (what the FRIGGIN HELL???) degree temps.

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  11. Deep emotions... that's such a fundamental element of this time of year. You're lucky to still have your mother.

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