Life Topics

The Wedding

She had packed, re-packed and packed again.  The day was finally here.  At the last minute she grabbed a rayon dress and rolled it and slid it in the side of her one piece of luggage.  Just in case.

The big day.  The wedding that she and her best friend had secretly been scheming, planning and praying for – forever.  Her heart literally soared.

Her flight left at 11:22 am; what to do for the next three hours was anyone’s guess.  She was so excited to get to New England.  So much time to wait.  She cleaned the house, the fridge including the science experiment living in the veggie bin, and watered plants and flowers.  God help her, would the time go by!

Finally, Uber sent a ding to her cell alerting her it/they were on the way.    She bounced into the Nissan Altima and was greeted by driver Margie, a retired postal worker who had crackers and water and plenty of chit chat to get her to the airport. And plenty of time.  Until there wasn’t.

They hit a snare on Airport Blvd, with a train.  The longest fragging train in the history of trains.  Margie waited while other drivers backed up, flipped around and basically said screw it, and the train just kept coming.  She kept checking her phone; the time was ticking, and the flight was leaving on time with or without her.  Dammit.

By the grace of God the train finally passed and the little old lady floored it.  She deposited her at curbside, and all was back to plan.  Kinda. She raced through the small airport with the speed of a much younger woman; through security and into the Southwest Airlines boarding area looking like a wild ban chi.  She was NOT missing this flight.  And she didn’t.  Clumsily guiding her roll-around onto the plane and stopping at her seat, 11C, a window, she hefted her big ass bag into the overhead and squeezed into her seat.  She buckled up, the plane was packed.  She said a prayer for safety and one for forgiveness.  She had probably cussed a few people out there on the road.

She leaned her head back and closed her eyes as the plane made its ascent.  Running checklists through her mind, as any Maid of Honor would do. Everything was done and this would be the wedding of weddings.  Perfect.

Arriving at the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, she looked for a driver.  The guy with a sign calling just for her.  Nothing.  Well, shit.  She was a little late but nothing serious.  Her best friend didn’t set it up.  Had to be it.  Ok, plan B.  She raced once more out the doors and into the cabstand area.  Flagged one down and she was off.

The wedding was at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church.  She was surprised to see just how many cars were in the lot.  Small affair?  How would she change into her dress?  Surely it would be left for her in the vestibule. The details had been ironed out months ago.  She slid into the church literally.  Her shoes and soaks were soaking wet.  No time to think, she opened the doors to the rectory; the service was already under way, without her.  She grabbed the first isle seat she came to.  Bride and groom were in place at the alter; the bridesmaid to the left, alone, the place she should occupy beside her vacant.  That’s for me she thought.  She fought the urge to just hop up there.  She was stopped short by the words of the presiding priest:  “May we bow our heads in prayer for the victims of flight 222……

Flight 222?  That was her flight.  What is wrong with this guy?  Let’s get on with the service.  A High Mass is long enough already.  She felt heavy.  She realized she was sweating; no, not sweating.  Wet.  Her hair, her awful hair.  She called out to the bride as the service continued, people in tears.   She yelled and the bride turned; saw her, stretched out an arm to her with eyes wide and tearful, a false eyelash drooping awkwardly.  She wanted to fix it but couldn’t.  She was above it now and understood.

“…For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever……”

Flight 222 traveled over the Atlantic off the coast of Cape Hatteras into a storm that sent a lightning bolt to the left side wing.  It spun left and continued a downward spiral into the abyss.  There were no survivors.

Life Topics

Second Chance

How early is too early to arrive at the airport; two hours, three hours?  If you are taking an early morning flight and like to get there when they are washing or fueling the plane – you are there too early.  If arriving before dawn, which I did tonight, chances are the place will be a ghost town with few gates open.  Getting through security is a breeze but getting a cup of coffee is damn near impossible.  Trudging through the dim gray lifeless terminal, I stop several times to put my large pink tote bag and luggage straps back onto my shoulder; a groggy balancing act.  I knew I should have brought my suitcase with wheels. A few people are ahead of me making their way to a glowing area, the place where the journey starts or maybe ends.

I wait at the gate, people watching and typing on my computer.  Across from me sits a pair of new parents with a blue stroller in front of the dad, and a lot of gear littering their space.  The mom sitting a few seats away from the dad eating a yogurt, probably exhausted.  It’s 3:30 in the morning.  A large red bag that resembles a hockey duffle sits between them on the uncomfortable plastic airport seats, no doubt filled with baby stuff.  Mom was tall and thin with shoulder length brown hair, which looked like she wore it up a lot, maybe just took it out of a ponytail.  Wearing black sweatpants and a zipped-up fleece jacket, she sat staring into space.  The dad is obviously on duty, looking into the stroller intermittently.  He is shorter than the mom, a little hefty with sandy blonde hair, with day old stubble wearing a layered winter coat.  It was a cold March night in Boston.

I could see little arms and legs flailing inside the buggy but couldn’t see a formed human.  There were fussing noises coming from inside, as he reached in to relieve distress.  He pulled out an alert and adorable 8-month-old baby girl.  She wore a blue dress, cream tights, and a ribbon in her peach fuzz hair.  The dad held her on one knee which made her shriek with delight.  I can’t help but drift back in time to when my sweet angels were an armful.  I’ve been there, juggling a bag of toys, diapers and Cheerios, my travel buddies for years.  Then slowly over time, one by one, you would lose the rattles, then the diapers and finally the Cheerios, substituted with soft granola bars suitable for their new teeth.

I don’t know if it is because I’m so tired that I can’t stop looking at them.  I didn’t sleep before leaving at 2am for my flight, running on anxiety and anticipation.  Am I having a nostalgic breakdown here at the airport?  My mind continues to wander.

My daydreams happen everywhere, coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, anywhere.  I look at new parents like I’m an infertile woman, longing for a child.  This makes no sense, as I am a middle-aged mother of two grown children.  I was blessed with two sons and feel so lucky to be their mom.  I’ve enjoyed them and have paid my dues; those days are over.  I really don’t want another child.  So, why do I do this?  I think I miss having a little one. Their arms and legs full of rolls and puffy cheeks, kissing exposed knees and rolled necks.  Maybe I’m trying to vicariously re-live those precious days. I want to once again feel that velvety baby skin against my face.  Inhale the unbelievably clean fragrant smell of the top of their head.  I want to be a grandmother.

The dad reaches into the large bag and pulls out a small plastic container of yogurt.  Putting it down beside him, he balances her on his knee and opens the treat to start feeding her.  Her eyes are wide and bright with wild anticipation of a creamy sweet mouthful.  She starts with a shake of excitement for what is coming.  A little shriek of euphoria follows as her eyes are transfixed on the spoon.  Her blue eyes bulge, the arms shake like a baby bird, and the legs stiffen, ready for the first installment.  I laugh a little at how cute and funny she is.  The mom catches my voyeur eyes and sees how amused I am.  We smile at each other.  She is so proud of her child.

About eight years ago I started to think a lot about having grandchildren.  It happened as the realization that my fertile years were over.  My friends were becoming grandparents and were transformed into a higher being.  All the fun with little responsibility; no babysitters, parent-teacher conferences, or doctor appointments.  I thought a lot about my sons having kids and being there to help them.  To me, it would be like having a second chance, enjoying the child of my child.  Watching them create a family and care for them as I did them.  However, my sons do not plan to have children, and I’m proud of them for making such an important decision.  If it’s not right for them, then I totally respect that.  Their happiness means more to me than anything.

There is a loud announcement that my plane is boarding.   I looked up from the computer, and the new parents are gone.  They slipped away without me noticing.  Just like my mothering years slipped away.  I hope they enjoy every step of the journey with their baby.  I gather my heavy bags and decide that this is my second chance.  I will live life to the fullest knowing my kids are safe and happy.  I can travel anywhere I want, whenever I want.   There’s great satisfaction knowing that I did everything I could to provide a happy childhood for them.  I believe being a good mom is the ultimate reward.  No more dreaming about things that aren’t meant to be.

I may never become a grandmother but I gave my mom two beautiful grandsons.