August 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.
July 23rd 2018 12:19am
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.
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.