Strangers in the Flight.
To be honest, I just spent the last hour sobbing. It’s a wave that comes over me from time to time. It’s not just a hormonal thing. It is the depth of my soul crying out for all things good and broken too.
“So what part of your trip are you looking forward to the most?” asked my father-in-law.
“Other than seeing my brother… that’s easy, meeting someone new on the airplane. I love meeting strangers and becoming friends.” I replied.
We were headed to visit my brother who was working in Yellowstone. I’d always had a love for talking to Jane Doe and realizing she was my schoolmate’s cousin… or, you know, something like that. I’d always loved how small the world really is. This most certainly came from my parents. I’ve blogged about this before – my parents have more stories of mutual friends they’ve met in various states, piano bars in which they’ve ended up randomly playing, or unlikely dinner companions than anyone I know. I guess it’s in my blood.
So, maybe it shouldn’t shock me as much as it does that we just vacationed with people that we’d only met one time before. For one day. In another country.
Last June, we visited Quebec City. (Let me add that it was all thanks to Jeff’s grandparents who generously lent us a week of their timeshare! Merci beaucoup!!!) It was our first time there and it fueled my love for all things French, all things quaint and charming. On the last day of our stay, we connected with another family staying at the same resort while at the swingset. We were on our way back to Indiana and made one last stop at the basilica in Beaupre, Quebec. We ran into this family again. For whatever reason, we couldn’t stop chatting and the kids couldn't stop playing. The wife spoke Polish as her native language, then English, then French. While she was fluent in all three, it was comfortable for us to speak French (seeing that it wasn’t her most rapid speak) with one another… thanks to her patience with me.
Well, long story short, we stayed in touch all year. Our kids were all the same ages – almost to the month. We had both chosen homeschooling – after we’d had our kids in the public school first. This entire post could be filled with things we have in common. So, we decided (after that “chance” 1-day encounter) to meet them in Quebec again this year and vacation together. Is that crazy or what?!?
We just got home from our trip. It was nothing short of amazing. Kindred spirits, our families are. We went dancing together, dining together. Swam and cooked together. Sipped wine and swatted mosquitoes together. Pushed our kids on the swings and went grocery shopping together. Talked exclusively French and taught our kids at times and pushed through the heat and fatigue of pushing six young children through Quebec City together. Watched our children bond and then hold each other’s hands together.
It was a true gift to have connected with “strangers” at such a deep level.
And then we had to say goodbye. There were laughs about how often we’d Skype; there were promises to make it back next year; and there were tears upon saying goodbye.
McHusband told me tonight that while he was driving us home and the rest of us were asleep in the car, he felt a suffocating heaviness after saying goodbye to them. He felt, simply put, bleak. We talked tonight of what that goodbye represented. Another summer vacation gone by where we’re saying farewell to the people. We’re saying ciao to those experiences. Mostly, I’m going to go all existential (or maybe Marty McFly???) on you… we’re saying goodbye to that version of us fully knowing that even if we came back to that same place with the same people the next summer, the kids would be a little older. Things would be the same, but very different.
That thought rabbit trailed us on to a deep heaviness tonight. A few hot topics…
- my friend with the damn cancer that has been told that nothing else can be done and the 6 boys she leaves behind
- the thought of our three grandmothers, now widowed, sitting alone most evenings before crawling into bed solo
- our friends who are overwhelmed with moving an ailing parent into their home for full-time care
After all of this, we had the
awesome terrible idea to look at pics of the McBabies from last summer’s vacation. I might as well have asked for a tear duct and snot explosion. The ugly cry happened.
“I am 37. If the Lord lets me live until a normal life expectancy, that means I’m almost halfway there. I feel like I can do it.” McHusband said.
I knew exactly what he meant. Sometimes, life just feels so weighty. We’re aware of our own brokenness, the brokenness of the world too. It feels hard to know that this is a lifelong bag to carry.
And so, we did the only thing that we know how to do. We prayed. And then we each told 10 things we were thankful for. And we chuckled at some of them. And God worked in our spirits and psyche somehow. And I feel a little better.
And just to seal the deal, I think I’ll watch something funny before bed.