I have ZERO reserves to roll with the punches life throws at me. I can be “ok” if everything in my life runs smoothly. Subsequently I have been careful about activities I engage in, and who I see, as I try to protect my fragile emotions. But I can’t always live like that and I can’t anticipate everything. And the SMALLEST things can set me off. Someone looking at me the wrong way can cause tears to spring to my eyes.
So my trip to Florida with Hailee ended up being a great trip. I had a wonderful time with my mom and seeing my brother, Jotham, sister-in-law, Ruth, and Hailee loved her cousins, Mason, Quincy, and Graham. There were some hard or tender moments but the overall trip was wonderful and we created some great memories as a family. My favorite memories involved kicking the soccer ball with my brother on the beach and watching Hailee’s excitement on the “It’s a Small World” Disney World ride. I also loved the late night conversation with Ruth and my mom, where we got to talk about Charlie.
But the trip home from Tampa to Salt Lake City yesterday completely undid me. It was honestly, the worst day I’ve experienced post-Charlie-funeral. We all got up early to drive from Orlando to Tampa to catch Hailee and my 9:50am flight to Denver and then onto SLC. We said goodbye to my mom at the curb and everything seemed to be working out fine. We got to the plane right as they were boarding and I thought, “Perfect, I don’t like extra time with a two year old in an airport.” But it was all downhill from there.
We boarded and were all ready to go, only to wait on the airplane, at the gate, for an hour and a half while they fixed a light on the plane. Then, the long flight from Tampa to Denver was full of a squirmy Hailee who didn’t want to sit and watch movies on her IPad and demanded lots of attention and management. She fell asleep on my lap, literally 3 minutes before we landed in Denver and I had to wake her up to get off the plane. We rushed off the plane to try to make our connection but quickly learned that our flight had left without us.
The airline representatives booked us on the “next best” route to Salt Lake City, a flight leaving four hours later and required a plane transfer in Phoenix. We were to arrive in SLC at 8:30 pm instead of our original schedule of 1:45 pm. There were no other straight shots to SLC that weren’t booked already. I struggled to refrain from crying at this point but I couldn’t help it. I took Hailee to the bathroom with me and proceeded to cry in the stall at the Denver airport. I allowed myself five minutes of crying, as my crying was causing Hailee to cry as well. Then I “sucked it up” and went with Hailee to find something to eat for lunch.
I said lots of swear words in my head and out loud when I was on the phone with Chad. But after a full belly and picking up some new games from a cute toy store in the Denver airport, I felt I could handle two more flights with Hailee.
When we arrived in Phoenix, I walked over a quarter mile to our next gate with Hailee in my arms, only to find that our flight out of Phoenix was delayed an hour. This would get us into Salt Lake City after 9pm. This meant over 12 hours of traveling total.
At this point, Hailee was a mess. She was so tired and sleep deprived from our vacation and lack of naps and was throwing two-year-old fits all over the place. When I saw that this flight was delayed, I honestly felt I had been pushed over the edge.
I went to a representative and asked if I could be re-booked on something the next day so that I could get a good nights sleep with Hailee at my parent’s house in Phoenix. The representative told me I would have to buy my own tickets to do that. I responded, “That doesn’t make sense to me and feels like very bad costumer service when everything that has happened today has NOT been my fault and I have now been flying all day with an exhausted two-year-old.” The supervisor was not sympathetic and said, “We are getting you to your destination today, which is what we can do for you.”
I LOST IT. I completely LOST IT.
Now, if this had happened to me when I wasn’t grieving and raw, this would simply be a really annoying and long day. But this honestly felt like more than I could handle. It didn’t help that throughout the day I seemed to see lots of babies and happy, smiling parents everywhere.
I took Hailee and walked toward the bathrooms for another “stall cry” but didn’t even make it there. I collapsed in front of one of the airport news and snack stores and just SOBBED. In front of hundreds of people, I was just SOBBING. I took Hailee in my lap and together she and I just cried and cried. We got lots of looks but I was beyond caring.
I called my parents (my mom had arrived in Phoenix from her Tampa-Phoenix flight about an hour previous) and told them the situation. They, of course, offered to come get us and for us to stay at their house. Right then, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. So I walked back up to the supervisor who rejected me and asked her how much it would cost to fly out the next day.
It was over 500 dollars! My sweet mom offered us to use her mileage points so we could stay. The supervisor, now that she saw my distress, was much nicer and sympathetic. She walked onto the tarmac, personally, to see if she could find our bags and offered to loan us a car seat so we could stay. Well, as it turns out, our bags went a different route to SLC, so I felt there was no point in staying if I couldn’t change my underwear. I took a deep breath and decided to “suck it up” one last time.
With all my crying and trying to plan how to stay in Phoenix, by the time I decided we were going to fly to Utah as planned, I only had about 20 minutes to wait before boarding. We survived the last leg of our trip and in the end, I was grateful we decided to come back to Utah. When Chad saw us and wrapped us in his arms, he started crying himself. He expressed how much he missed us while we were gone.
This event has left me very raw. I feel like an exposed nerve. My gut feels like it’s been put in a blender and like someone has taken a dagger to my heart. My mind is being very cruel to me and I am having to make a conscious effort to not overly berate myself. It’s hard to even write about this because it just feels so vulnerable to admit how raw I really am.
It is also hard, because in this rawness, I feel like a “waste of space.” Like I’m doing no good to anyone or the world by existing. I hate how easily I am unraveled and subsequently feel like I offer little to others. In fact, I often feel like in this vulnerability, I may burden others, especially my sweet husband. I also don’t want people to feel like they have to walk on egg shells around me.
If you read this and interact with me, please do NOT walk on eggshells. It actually hurts more if I feel like others are treating me as fragile. It meant a lot to me that my brother said something relatively insensitive in Florida. While it hurt, it felt good to know that he wasn’t editing himself around me. And I got over it. I know I need to face these situations (i.e. life) if I’m going to keep going. This airport adventure makes me aware that I will be tumbled and smashed on the rocks from time to time in my journey.
And to recover from this tumbling, I’m taking care of myself today. Chad booked me a massage and I am signing off now to go to it. 🙂