Yesterday marked the end of our mid-winter break from reality in San Diego. We awoke at some ungodly hour, coaxing our little ones forcefully from sleep as they quietly slumbered in their pristine hotel beds.
Before 5:30am we had returned the rental car, shuttled to the airport, checked in, and had endured several levels of hell in the security line at the airport where I was first subjected to an invasive pat-down while holding the hand of my crying cherub because I was carrying two juice box sized containers of Rice Dream for my lactose-intollerant cherub, and then left to board the airplane with only my children and our slew of carry-on items, since my husband was pulled from the security line and forced to head back to the check-in counter.
He did make the plane, however, as the Captain on the Southwest Airlines flight assured me that he would. This amazing man had seen me standing post-violating pat-down fruitlessly, silently holding back tears in the boarding area, three shaky angels in tow. We were both waiting to board the same plane. And maybe it was my tears, or the blue preboard card that indicated that someone in our party has a disability, or maybe I just looked completely mired and deflated and helpless, or maybe this is an “all of the above” situation, but in any case, he approached me, offered me comfort, and though I did not speak the fear that weighed imminently on my mind, assured me that come hell or high water, or hand-plucking my beloved from the security line, that my husband would be joining us on the flight home. And join us, he did…just in the nick of time.
In that minute, I became a vehemently loyal Southwest Airlines customer, because I’m certain that this Captain made all things possible for us on this return flight home. And the comments and knowing looks from the rest of the onboard crew confirmed my suspicions.
The rest of our flight, and connection aboard Southwest would run eerily smooth.
Our entire trip had been fraught with this stream of relentless paradox: tumultuous meltdown followed by unexpected, inorganic calm.
All of my children have always been really good travellers, exceptionally good on flights. Over the many years of travel with 3 children, we had only ever had one bad leg of a trip.
(The time that we nearly missed our connection in Texas to San Diego and moments before boarding, Jonas had projectile vomited on my husband, and the sippy cup had been left behind on the previous flight in the grand rush, and the portable DVD player’s battery died minutes later, and Jonas having no tolerance at this point, desperately looking for comfort, confusing the tray-table for a portable DVD player and requesting over and over again that we open and close the table expecting to find Muno and Brobee on a screen at each subsequent opening, and being disappointed each time, yielded screams and shrieks and in turn stares from other passengers…Yeah, that was a doozy of a flight, that one there.)
So, I was what I thought adequately prepared when we flew out of Boston and for a moment on the flight from Boston to Chicago where we had a layover with no change of plane on our way to San Diego, I sat back, gazing on my sleeping boy, fully occupied and content Micah and Sole, and hubby and thought to myself, “What was I worried about? Look at this. I’m one lucky gal.” Half a second later I scolded myself for potentially jinxing the remainder of the flight. And jinx it I did.
Jonas didn’t understand the layover. He awoke as we were in our final descent to Chicago, and was shaken by the fact that nearly everyone on the plane had deboarded, but we remained in our seats. He told me that he wanted off. I explained that we were picking up more people so that we could continue on another plane ride to San Diego. He was confused. He wasn’t buying it. I let him get out of the car seat to stretch his legs. This was the beginning of the turmoil that would lace the next 5 hours, where we would teeter on the brink of full-on meltdown, where I would coax him away from the edge for a few minutes before I would find him beginning to free-fall into the emotional distress once more. And at each turn I would yank him back to reality, to calm for another minute, before he would begin to free-fall again.
Up. Down. Back. Forth.
Bungeeing between here and there, dangling over the infinite abyss of no return.
TO BE CONTINUED…