The ride across the airport to runway 31 seems to take forever. Once there, we wait, and wait, barely inching forward. After almost an hour since leaving the terminal, the pilot comes on the intercom and informs us that we must return to base. We have been waiting so long to be allowed to take-off, we burned through our excess fuel. “We don’t have enough to get to Vancouver safely,” he said. “And there are no gas stations in the sky that we can pull over and get more gas if we’re low.”
By the time we return to base, refuel, and take off we are an hour and a half behind our originally scheduled departure time.
Not a big deal to most of us on the 3/4 full flight, but there were those trying to connect to a flight to New Zealand who were not so fortunate. They had to stay an extra night in Vancouver.
I wonder about the ripple effect of that change… Family waiting to greet you who have driven in from another city, a wedding the very next day which you won’t make, a extra day of holidays that you don’t have to take, a pet in a boarding facility that will have to stay another night, a dying parent/friend whom you are hoping to get to on time — and now you will be too late, they will be gone by the time you arrive.
All because two medivacs landed at the airport and threw the entire scheduling of landings/takeoffs out of sync.
For me, it was easy. My daughter worked until 7. I probably would have been first to the restaurant we’d agreed to meet at if we’d left on time. This way, she was there first.
It didn’t matter — the order of our arrival. What mattered was the time spent together, laughing, sharing, enjoying each other’s company as well as my friend TZ who had flown in with me.
TZ has been an older sister/aunt-figure in my daughters’ lives since they were born. In their formative years they didn’t see as much of her as she had her own family circles to connect. But when her marriage ended, and she spent more time with her parents who are my dearest friends, we all got to spend more time with TZ — and her connections to all of us deepened.
It is a lovely gift.
For me, I have never had a younger sister. Always the youngest, I’ve never had the opportunity to feel ‘looked up to’ like I do to my sisters. I’ve also never had the opportunity to know, without doubt, that I’m right — but hey! That’s a whole other story in sibling placement.
For my daughters, TZ is someone they can call on who they know will always offer a helping hand, a listening ear, an insightful word. They know she has their back, will champion them on, cheer for them and celebrate their successes, and hold them in love when they fall.
It’s who she is and their lives are better for having her there.
It’s the thing about being the mother. I know that I will not always have the clarity of mind and strength of heart to simply be present when they are feeling life’s arrows digging deeply. Sometimes, I am too connected to my own stuff, in whatever their issues are, to be compassionately disengaged from their stuff. Sometimes, their stuff is simply not stuff they want to share with their mother.
I have always believed that having an older, wiser mentor-figure is important. Their relationship with me is close — sometimes, too close for them to have the distance they need to use the other person as their sounding board, their fresh eyes, their test driver. When their father remarried my dream was that their step-mother would provide an alternative safe place for them to find courage, healing, wisdom. I wanted them to know that no matter what was going on in their lives, there was always someone there for them.
While it didn’t happen the way I imagined, it didn’t matter. Between my sisters and my friends, all their lives the girls have been surrounded with older women who love and support them, no matter what.
Years ago, when my eldest daughter found a lump in her breast and we were uncertain of its prognosis, it was my girlfriends who sat with us in the waiting room at the cancer clinic, laughing, chatting, sharing stories as she waited to be taken in for surgery. I remember at the time, looking around the waiting room at all the other women who sat, with worried looks upon their faces, and maybe a husband or friend to sit with them. Some had no one, and there was this 18 year old young woman surrounded by a circle of women making sure she was okay. I remember feeling so incredibly blessed and fortunate that day. My daughter had all these older women around her to love her and support her. What an amazing blessing.
TZ wasn’t there that day, but her mother was. Later, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and sat waiting to be wheeled into the operating room for a doublt mastectomy, TZ and I sat with her. I read aloud stories from Stuart MacLean’s, The Vinyl Cafe. We laughed and teased her and held her hand and held her in a loving space.
That’s what women do. We hold space. We create connections. We embrace one another in tender arms, opening our hearts, our minds, our ears and our eyes to see into the truth of what is needed for each of us to feel seen and heard. We create the safe and courageous space we each yearn for where we can express what lives within our hearts, what yearns to be free, what needs to be said so that we can deal with whatever life puts in front of us, and not feel all alone.
It is a gift. To know my daughters have so many special women in their lives that no matter what happens, they will always have someone to turn to, to hold them up when the world is falling down around them, to pick them up when their hearts are broken, to hear them out when they’ve lost their voices.
I sat in a restaurant last night listening to my daughter and my friend chatter away and felt the beauty and wonder and awe of being in that moment right then. No matter how long it had taken to arrive, it was a perfect moment.