Embracing our New Adventure: A Lost Passport, Missed Hugs, and Tears

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passportAugust 2018, my family and I began what was sure to be the most memorable family vacation of our lives. We were going to Australia for almost a month of adventure, in what would possibly be our last family vacation together, as just the 4 of us. Our sons were 18 and 20; my husband Brian and I were looking into the near future with an empty nest. In the three years that have passed, I’ve tried over and over to write about it, but I just couldn’t get far without welling up in sniffly, runny-nose style tears. Three days ago, I found a note on my phone that I wrote from the airplane runway in Houston, Texas. I had forgotten all about it. Here is that note, written through tears on my phone, unedited.

Cannot contain my excitement in the MSP airport. Sent this to our Aussie friends just before we boarded our first flight.

July 23rd 2018 12:19am

It’s almost midnight. I’m sitting on an Air New Zealand plane over Mexico on a flight to Auckland where we’ll have a short layover before boarding a flight to our final destination in Sydney. The first leg of our trip from Minneapolis to Houston was flawless. Once we were in the Houston airport, Christian discovered that he no longer had his passport. He had left it (probably) on the plane from MSP. He had it getting on, and he no longer had it. I asked Brian to check with the gate attendants. Christian ran to the last gate to try to recover it. The plane to AUK was boarding. We needed to make fast decisions. They called immigration to see if he could board with just his passport card and not his passport. No. Our bookings were on 2 separate reservation numbers. Brian and I on one. Christian and Benjamin on the other. The last of the passengers are boarding the plane. Fewer than 10 people left. Will there be an extra fee for the next flight? I ask. They’re not sure, possibly. But there are places around the airport that can expedite his passport. At a high cost. Do I risk paying a change flight fee for 4? Leave the 2 of them to figure it out? I’m sweating and crying and completely unsure of what to do. Everyone tells me to go. They’ll join us. Everyone has long since boarded the plane.

 

Scene of the crime. Passport was left in the seat pocket in front of Christian with the neck pillow.

I left them. In Houston. To figure it out. Alone. I was shaking and crying. I didn’t even hug them goodbye. I’m not sure if I was more angry or scared or sad or… I was everything. I was leaving my 18 and 20 year olds in Houston to figure out how they would get a new passport and get to Sydney Australia. I just left them. I cried and shook while the attendant scanned my ticket and passport at the gate. We got to the plane and were greeted by attendants at the door. We’re clearly the last ones and I’m still shaking and crying. They asked what was happening and we briefed them. The sweetest of them pulled us to the side and he looked at our tickets only to find that someone was sitting in our premium seats. So we stood off to the side while the attendants dealt with that. Meanwhile I’m still crying, so they brought us both a glass of champagne. They’ve promised they’ll keep in contact with the gate attendant and update me as soon as they know something. Our seats are now re situated and we sit down to luxury. The seats are huge, nice touches (pillows, blankets, bags with items to make the flight more comfortable), leg rests that pull out like a recliner. It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been on a plane. And.i’m.leaving.my.boys.in.houston.alone. And I’m going to be out of touch for the next 14+ hours. So all I can do is pass on to them as much advice and love and pleading to stay together and be safe and sort this out and GET TO AUSTRALIA before I have to turn off my phone. As we got close to leaving, the attendant came to tell us that they had officially deboarded the boys. There’s no hope of them getting on the plane with just his passport card. I’m definitely about to fly to NZ without my boys while they stay in Texas to figure out where to stay, how to get a new passport and how to get around.

Writer’s note: Did they make it? No. No they did not. Not then, anyway. After exhausting all efforts, the boys flew back home after a few days in Houston.

Those first few days of our family-turned-couple’s vacation were spent mostly in tears as we saw and did things we were supposed to be sharing with the boys. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t even hug them goodbye. The feeling of regret hung tight to my heart when I thought about the last look that I gave Christian as I begged them to stay together and get.on.the.next.plane. How could the confusion prevent me from wrapping my arms around them and holding them before flying away to the otherside of the world? What kind of mother was I that I even left them without any proof that they could join us?
After a few days, we realized we had to move on and embrace our new adventure. We were there to visit our Aussie friends. We genuinely enjoyed all of those lovely, distracting activities, but when we were alone we were either arguing or crying. Then, Brian and I went bushwalking in Royal National Park. After hours of walking the dry, dusty, hot trails, suddenly the bush disappeared and we were standing high on top of a cliff looking over the ocean with humpback whales breaching in the distance.
photographing the ocean
Royal National Park- seeing the ocean. Here, we refocused our lens on the scenery, and our hearts.

It was that day and that moment that things made a complete turn for us. Brian and I returned home from that magical holiday stronger and more appreciative of each other, and excited for our next stage as empty-nesters. 18 months later, we used the boys’ flight credits and we all made it back to Australia…right at the start of a world-wide pandemic. We were on the other side of the world as one country after another started to close their borders. We flew home from that retake holiday on March 17th, 2020.

Australia is memorable, indeed!
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What does life with adult sons look like? Jodie and her husband Brian are finding out! After over two decades of raising her sons Benjamin and Christian, Jodie is new to life with an empty nest and abundant free time. Since her sons are off on their own adventures, she and her husband have turned their skills toward raising honey bees and are excited about contributing to the pollinator population. Jodie is a two time surrogate to two boys who are busy teaching their parents just what life with boys can be like! Jodie's sons are her greatest pride, so being able to help 2 families have that same joy is an unexplainable gift. Four pregnancies 20 years apart was enough, so Jodie retired as a surrogate, but remains in the birth world as an independent birth and postpartum doula with Balance Doula Services. Nurturing women during childbirth and supporting them during their first days and weeks as mothers is a natural way for Jodie to continue welcoming new life into the world. She also works as a patient care coordinator at Rochester Chiropractic and Wellness. There she is able to work directly with a large population of pregnant and postpartum women as well as their children and families. When she isn't behind the desk, she's seeking out ways for RCW to be active with community outreach opportunities and family wellness focused events.