Airports. In my opinion, you either love ’em or hate ’em. My earliest memory of an airport was when I was a 2nd grader, my grandparents took me with them on a trek to Washington, D.C., where my aunt was living and working. I still remember the wondrous sights we took in, and the plane ride, well, it was spectacular, especially through a 7 year old’s eyes.
I flew a few times while I was dating Mark, from Kentucky to Kansas, but whenever you are young and in love, you don’t really recall much about the actual flight. It was simply a quicker vehicle to get to the man I loved and missed. And he was glad to pick me up in Wichita KS, and spirit me home to his parent’s farm, where life took on a slower, more patient pace.
Had a job for almost a year, B.C. (before children), where I worked for a software installation company. I travelled Sunday through Thursday, leaving out of little old Wichita Falls airport here. In that few short months, I got to see parts of Washington state, Orange County, California and the PCH, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. It was fun. I loved being on the planes, but I loved more than anything disembarking to my husband waiting patiently for me near baggage claim.
A year ago in August, we travelled to DisneyWorld for the trip of a lifetime. We packed in more fun and sights in a 7 day period than we thought humanly possible. It was hot, humid, and tiring, but we loved every minute of it. The boys’ first plane ride was a hit, they were pros. We promised to do more air travel on a regular basis, and were going to go places like Hawaii and Seattle in the upcoming years.
Fast forward to today. I made another drive to an airport, Love Field in Dallas. My sweet mom, who’s been visiting here for three weeks, had her first ever plane trip today, heading back to Kentucky (via Nashville, where my brother picked her up & drove her home). As she and I travelled that direction in my car, I couldn’t help but remember the last time I was in our car, heading to that same airport. It was the first week of July, and Mark, Andrew, Ben, and I were on our way to Massachusetts, where we spent an unbelievable, spectacular perfect week of sightseeing, camping, hiking, shopping, touring Boston, MIT, and watching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Driving in the car, we didn’t have a care in the world. The 8 year old plugged in his mp3 player to the aux slot on the stereo, and we rocked to his tunes. “Life is a Highway” from Cars 2, “Abracadabra” from Steve Miller Band, and “California Girls” by Katy Perry were just a few road tunes we sang along to.
This trip today was going to be harder than I thought. As I got mom situated, and we walked to her gate, I passed the McDonalds where we sat and laughed until we cried, at something mundane and silly that the boys said. I pass families, going and coming, all looking perfectly happy. My family was that happy and complete just a few months ago, walking this same hallway. I pass the bar where Mark decompressed with a much-too-expensive but oh-so-worth-it beer before we made the drive back to Wichita Falls on July 10. Little did we know, as we packed our luggage away in that car, that in a mere three weeks we’d see that perfect family unravel, leaving us struggling for answers.
I made sure my mom was safely aboard her flight, then headed back to the parking garage. I found the car, flipped on the GPS, and headed back northwest, with Wichita Falls on my radar. As I left Love Field, I turned on the radio, where a contemporary Christian station soothed my melancholy spirit.
It seems like an eternity since we had that perfect vacation, as that perfect family. We had it all and didn’t even realize it. Well, maybe we realized it, but I don’t think we recognized the gravity of it and the rareness of such love and togetherness. We were in it for the long haul, no matter what. For better or worse, in sickness and in health.
But as I drove and mourned what could have been and what was, I kept hearing a voice inside of my head, telling me that there are still good days to come. We were lucky to have what we had, for as long as we had it. Many people never find love. Many, if they find it, can’t keep it, or it turns out to be something they didn’t sign on for. Many don’t have kids….many have kids, but wish they didn’t. I’m healthy. My boys are spectacular on so many levels, just like their daddy was. We have a home, good friends, family, and a God who’s got our backs.
On a day that could’ve been more bitter than sweet, I felt the opposite. There’s still so much sweet in this crazy world, even in Wichita Falls, Texas. We remember, we honor, we can be a bit wistful, but we keep pushing on. And I hope that my boys and I return to Love Field or DFW sometime soon; we’ll take a trip, and make new memories, adding to the fabulous ones already inscribed on our hearts.