Saturday, April 04, 2009

Gone, Baby, Gone

This morning while sharing our last few hours together, Lisi said, "What am I doing?" This reminded me of a comedy routine my sister and I used to do, which we then passed on to Lisi. The routine involves leaning in to kiss the other person and then jumping back as if this is not the person you intended to kiss and saying, "What am I doing?" I'm sure it's only funny to us, but it triggered a memory. After visiting Kate and company when the kids were small (I believe Mary was still an infant, Lisi and Niko were under 10), Katie took me to the airport by herself. I don't remember, but I think Michael (my brother-in-law) was out of town on business. Anywho, we got the time of my departure wrong, so when we arrived at O'Hare thinking we had oodles of time, it turned out my flight was boarding and I had to skedaddle to make it. This was before 9-11 so the family could come all the way to the gate with me. We ran like crazy to the gate and they were holding the plane for me, but every time I went through the metal detector I set it off. I took off my rings--buzz. I took off my watch and handed it to Niko--buzz. I took off my boots because they had a Harley zipper pull--buzz. WTF?? Finally, they just wanded me, found it was something ridiculous and let me through. I hugged Katie quickly and smooched the baby. I hugged Niko quick and as I released him he held on saying, "Aunt Laurie! AUNT LAURIE!"
"Oh, Niko, I don't have time, " I said, quickly becoming upset. "But I have your watch," he said with his sweet Spanky-from-the-Little-Rascals face. I kissed him again, took my watch and turned to Lisi. She wanted to do the routine, but there just wasn't time. I was already getting the stink eye from the gate crew. "I can't, " I said, and hugged her tight before running down the Jetway. The look of disappointment on her little face was heartbreaking and too much to bear. I got to my seat, having received the stare of death from a planeful of passengers, buckled up and proceeded to burst into tears. I cried--no, I sobbed--all the way home. I did not stop crying until we passed the mountains and I saw the Hollywood sign. I'm not a fan of long goodbyes, but I didn't even get a proper short goodbye. It all felt so incomplete.

I relayed this story to Lisi today as we talked about what time we were going to leave to get her to LAX in time for her 2:06pm flight. We left in plenty of time, hit minimal traffic and even stopped to buy some fruta for the drive. We arrived at LAX in time and went inside. I had to pee, as did she, so I went first while she waited in the check-in line. Then, I waited with her luggage while she went to the ladies room. The check-in line was unbelievably long and I started to worry she'd miss her flight. I finally asked an employee who told us we were in the wrong line. CRAP! We ran over to the electronic check in lines, but when I selected "yes" for the checked luggage, the computer said, "You are too late to check in for this flight." WHAT??? I told the guy behind the counter, "The computer says we're too late to make the flight. What can we do?" He got the flight information and confirmed that, yes, we were too late--to check the luggage. It seems the plane is so far from the check-in area that it takes 45 minutes to get your luggage on the plane. "What if we put her on this plane and send the luggage on the next one," I asked. "You'll never see your bags again," he replied (I'm sure there was an ominous echo accompanying that statement). "What about a later flight?" Well, the next non-stop flight was at 6:30 and she'd be standby. They only way to get her on the flight was if she didn't have checked baggage. Oh, and the flight is boarding in 11 minutes. [cue Jeopardy theme song]

"Okay," I said, "Let's get her on this flight without a checked bag." I told Lisi I'd do my best to send her luggage out on Monday but I may have to wait until pay day. We got her boarding pass and ran. We stopped just outside the "boarding passes only beyond this point" sign and she grabbed the essentials from her luggage. We hugged and kissed quickly, said "I love you" simultaneously, and I sent her off to catch her plane. The tears started to build the second she turned around to wave one last time. The security guard nearby said, "Your daughter's lovely."
"She's my niece," I said and turned before I lost it completely. I made it upstairs and back to my car with her suitcase before breaking down into a puddle. I cried the ugly cry for a few minutes than called my sister to tell her what happened. I got Michael first and we arranged the luggage situation. Then, he put Kate on the phone. I told her what happened and started to cry again. I reminded her of that time and I couldn't stop crying. I hoped Lisi was okay and not crying, too. I hung up with Katie, texted Lisi that we worked out the luggage sending, and apologized for foreshadowing her departure with my story.

Then I cried all the way home.


Annika said...

Aww! I love how much you love your family. And I want my sister to visit right this instant. (If you're lonely Sunday morning, I'll meet you at the farmer's market!)

Ellen Bloom said...'ve made me tear-up just reading your post. At least you and Lisi had a grand visit!

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Awwww, hunny!!! You have me squirtin a tear or two as well! I think it speaks VOLUMES for what a great relationship you have with your family. *SO* jealous. But thanks for the vicarious familial love.