“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~John Bunyan
When I was thinking about writing about my journey to Venezuela I wanted it to be light, funny and full of wit and humor I never really wanted to talk about the little things that get on my nerves, the negativity or the sad bits.
One would think that a week before moving half way across the world, I would have been excited, but I wasn’t There was a heavy feeling, a non-excitement if you will. I don’t know if it was because the trip itself was going to talk a long time, or I was working up until the end and I was tired. I’m not sure, but even as I was saying my last “see ya laters” all of my friends said the same thing, “I thought you’d be ecstatic”. My mood was anti-climatic even though I really WANTED to be overjoyed. It was strange. I spent a lot of time questioning myself about all of the reasons why, but never came up with anything substantial.
On Thursday afternoon I knew the reason. It was my last day of work and I had some time to visit a friend and get my last haircut. On my way into my appointment I received a text message from my sister in Ontario that my mom was rushed to the hospital. She was also on her way into an appointment and didn’t really have any further information. I sent a message to my sister in Germany and we all tried getting a hold of my sister who lives outside of Calgary. Now, my Dad, god bless him, tries hard to be connected to the world of technology, but doesn’t really understand how text messaging works. With his phone on silent, without vibration (I changed that today) or off, I’m not sure which, made the wait to get any information on the status of my mom excruciating. Angela, my sister from Ontario, called around Calgary and discovered which hospital they were in. Jenny, my sister from Alberta was making her way into the city early Friday morning. She essentially became a lifeline for my sisters and me.
Friday was a weird day. Juan and I were relaxing at our friend’s house, preparing and rearranging things in our suitcases etc. My sister’s updates were worrying and as the day progressed, they became frightening. There were messages like, mom is not making any sense, and she’s gurgling. My nerves were frayed. It was so difficult for me to imagine what she was going through. We got up early to get ready for our flight on Saturday morning. While eating breakfast I received a text saying “The hospital told Dad, Mom took a turn for the worst. She’s unresponsive. I’ll let you know more when we get there!” I crumbled into a heap of tears. This isn’t the kind of thing anyone wants to hear, ever.
For a few minutes I was in a state of flux. What was I to do? Our travel day to Venezuela was a few hours away. My Dad, not wanting to worry or inconvenience me, thought it would be ok if I continued on my journey, but the thought of being so far away doing nothing for anyone made me feel sick. Even if I could be home to feed the dogs made me feel better. I knew that I needed to head to Calgary to be with my family, but I wasn’t thinking straight as how to work out all the details. Thank God for Juan and my friend France. I had brain freeze. I was trying to process so much at the same time that all I could do was sit. The drive to the airport is now a blur. I remember getting into and out of the car. The drive there doesn’t exist in my memory.
Paulo Coelho that says when you want something the universe conspires with you to achieve it. I was reminded of that every step of my way here. I wanted to be with my family and the universe made sure that would happen. Strangers were helping us without even knowing they were. We were passed straight through to an Air Canada ticket agent when we asked to be on stand by for our flight to Toronto. We didn’t have to wait in the long line. We even passed through one of the shortest security lines. Once we got inside we started planning. I called the airline and they were gracious enough to put my flight to Venezuela on hold. Juan kept checking flights into Calgary. We were trying to see if there was a direct flight. There weren’t any, so we started looking into hotel options. I, of course, just wanted to book the first thing that I saw. But Juan certainly had a clearer head and knew to be patient (one of his virtues, not mine). We would book my ticket in Toronto.
At the baggage carousel, Juan flipped open his laptop and bought my direct flight (he’s smart and patient!). We had less than an hour to find the terminal and check in. Juan and I said our goodbyes at my gate. I was sad; this wasn’t the way we had planned our trip, departing on different planes, not knowing when we’ll see each other next, but we both knew that this was the right and only thing to do.
My seat must have been one of the last ones because the plane was packed. I had the good fortune to sit with an off duty flight attendant named Patricia and a really down to earth business man. I was ok at first and then started to silently sob. Both of these strangers were angels. Patricia ensured that I had everything that I needed and at one point came back with a box of Kleenex. The man was incredibly empathetic and shared a similar story to mine. I was being taken care of by people I had just met. The universe was conspiring to make this journey less painful. As much as I thanked them, they will never know how much their kindness means to me. I will never be able to repay them.
I am happy to be here, happy to help out, and happy to give my Dad some rest and peace of mind. To say that I am relieved that my mom is stable is indescribable. To be able to recognize the good things mixed in with the bad is a blessing for me. I need to trust that the universe is till conspiring with me. So for now, this is my journey, my little detour along the way.