Today…. today was a day.
After only 4 hours of sleep the night before, I arrive at the airport for 5:15am to get through security, pick up my Starbucks coffee and banana bread.
I hear the tremor in the cashiers voice as she she tells me my bill, barely above the octave of a whisper. The total is $6.66.
I remind myself this not a bad omen, but a sign from the universe, my guardians, angels and my higher self, to realign my thoughts. Everything about this flight felt “off” from the moment I’d tried booking it, and my fear of crashing was in my peripheral.
Heading to the gate, I lounge with my fellow passengers, for 30-45 min waiting to board. We’re advised it’s delayed 140 minutes.
Shitty, but I can still make it to catch the tail end of my nieces bday.
I settle into my seat, update my dad and my brother, and fill my now grumbling belly with hot coffee and banana bread while exchanging silly faces with the cutest freckle faced, carrot-topped little boy I have ever seen. His mischievousness as he attempts to escape his napping grannie makes me laugh.
45 min goes by as I occupy myself with friends online and the antics of an adorable ginger toddler. They announce our flight is going to be delayed a total of 4 hours from our original departure.
The atmosphere at the gate sours so fast you can physically feel the tension as we sharply inhale our breath in unison.
No good. I’ll be missing the unicorn pool party complete with unicorn cupcakes. But, I pinky promised! My heart sinks to the pit of my stomach as the reality of my broken promise washes over me.
I send updates back to family. Dad calls to see if I can get a refund or on a new flight. No dice.
My brother sends me photos of the girls to cheer me up. Adorable images of a smiling and content infant, a soon to be five year old happily hugging her three year old sister, both smiling up to the camera, following by a crying three year old holding her nose captioned “didn’t last long lol”
At 8am, I decide coffee isn’t going to be enough, gather my things and head to a restaurant within the airport. Sitting at the bar I order a Belgian moon and explain to my new therapist that my flights delayed by four hours, I’m breaking a pinky promise to my niece and I’m absolutely gutted to be missing her unicorn pool party. She nods in understanding as she sets my frosty glass on its coaster and lays a menu before me. “You pinky promised,” she says. “Those are serious”.
Sullenly I sip my orange flavored beer and stew over the situation. I struggle to get myself to a place of gratitude; my usual go-to practice for diffusing upset feelings.
Instead, I sit mourning the “should have been” memory of witnessing my niece celebrate her birthday for the first time with school friends.
As an Auntie who lives across the country, I’ve done as much as I could to be there for as many firsts as possible.
Now I’m crying. Tears are pouring down my cheeks onto the bar top. The two gentlemen sitting two seats over move to a table on the other side of the restaurant while my beer serving therapist maintains a safe distance.
Could I really blame them? It’s 8:30 am, I’m drinking beer, ordering hot dog sliders for breakfast while on the verge of hysterics over missing a unicorn pool party for a five year old.
Pulling myself together, I down the rest of my beer for some liquid courage, dial up my niece on whatsapp and face the music. Time to give her the news.
She’s excited to see me on the other line and tells me all about her party plans for swimming, a slip and slide, tie dye t-shirt making and of course, unicorn cupcakes for her and her three friends.
After explaining that our plane was broken and that I’d be late, she’s asks if I like lemonade and unicorn cupcakes. I tell her they’re my most favorite. “Well, we’ll make sure to save you some for when you get here”, she says. I choke back tears and tell her I love her.
As we hang up the phone I check my emails for updates. Our flights delayed another hour.
“I’ll have another beer, please”.
My bartender nods. “Might as well. Looks like you’ve still got a couple hours to go”.
I check in with a friend attending her first ghost market where she’ll offering card readings. We discuss her feelings on the event and all she’s offering before she reminds me “You’re always being protected. Those delays were for your protection”.
The Universe is always working to support you. Even when you don’t see how.
By the time we board, depart and finally arrive in Toronto, a total of 5 hours late, I’ve managed to squeeze in a much needed 3 hour nap, dreams full of play dates with my nieces, wake with a great idea for a new book series and enjoy great conversation with my dad and his girlfriend as we head home.
My sister-In-law invites us to a pizza supper as a “special birthday party” so I can still celebrate with my nugget.
And it was perfect.
Full of pizza and unicorn cupcakes, I hunker down to play Barbie's and mermaids on the floor before it’s time for bed.
The three year old asks, with the biggest set of puppy dog eyes, if I would tuck them in tonight.
We have a tickle fest before we put our jammie’s on and crawl into bed. I tuck them both in, kissing their foreheads as I smooth back their blond curls before settling into the rocking chair and wait for them to drift to off to Neverland.
I listen to their breathing as it slows to the rhythm of slumber. Watching them sleep my heart fills with so much love it over flows and runs down my cheeks a moment.
In that instant I finally settled deeply into a space of gratitude.
Arriving late gifted me an intimate couple hours with my girls, entirely free of distraction from party games and friends.
Arriving late gifted me with the long awaited squeal of excitement from my niece as she realizes I’ve arrived, and runs into my waiting arms for a bear hug and showering of kisses.
Arriving late gifted me with a chance to play Barbie's, share cupcakes, listen to stories and tuck my girls into bed.
It was a difficult journey to find it, but as I lay in bed tonight, watching the lightening through the camper windows, listening to rain tap the roof as thunder rolls overhead, I sigh deep and full of gratitude for the finish to an otherwise very trying day.
(originally written and published July 30, 2018)