One month ago, at this very time, we were on the last leg of our journey home. It all seems like such a blur now, yet it seems like yesterday that we were sitting in that hotel room in Guangzhou and received an email at around 9 p.m. that our flight to Beijing the next morning had been cancelled because of the bad weather that had been sitting over us all evening. I stared at the email in shock and horror. At the same time, we received word that my dad had been admitted to the hospital with bronchitis and serious dehydration. I felt so out of control and desperate to get home, so I contacted our guide, Kathy, on WeChat, asking for help. She was unsuccessful in finding out much over the phone and suggested we check out of our hotel room extra early the next morning and head to the airport in hopes of securing another morning flight out. I didn't sleep much that night, suffice it to say, and emailed/texted with friends back home to check on my dad through the night.
We left the hotel at 5:00 a.m. in a fog. Thankfully, Lulu had a decent night's sleep which was our biggest hope. She was in very good spirits for waking up so early, too. Traffic was crazy at that time in the morning, and it actually felt as if everyone in Guangzhou were racing to the same destination for the same reason we were--to reschedule their cancelled flight. When we arrived at the airport, our guide went right to work at the counter trying to get some options for us. Our internet was a bust but Jimmy's phone was somehow able to get through to our travel agent who hadn't yet left for the day. He gave us the bad news that there wasn't anything he could do from their end and suggested we take it up directly with the airlines. Kathy finally delivered the news that the earliest they could get us out was on a 1:30 flight. It was that or stay another night in Guangzhou. I fell into a puddle of tears like a big 'ole baby and actually started crying out loud that I wanted to go home. I can laugh about it now, but phew...I missed our kids at home so much and felt like we'd just never get there. Let's just say I don't operate well without sleep. Jimmy helped me to pull it together, and Kathy gave us the strong advice to take the flight to Beijing. With the unpredictable weather, she worried that we'd only get stuck again, and at least in Beijing we'd be one step closer to home. We knew that we had missed our connecting flight to Houston, but our travel agent had--the night before--emailed me some solid options to present to the airline.
We (not so easily) killed eight hours in a really weird terminal of the airport, but at least there was a playroom, which kept Lulu's attention for a while even though the A/C wasn't working and it was ninety-nine degrees (felt like 199 with my hot flashes). We finally took off for Beijing at 1:30 p.m. The flight was uneventful compared to our prior, super turbulent-y China flights, and Lulu was awesome. Since it wasn't so long, we were able to keep her fairly entertained between the food service and the magazines in the seat pocket. When we arrived in Beijing, an airline representative greeted us and walked us to baggage claim and then to the international counter so we could get to work, which meant getting home. It turned out we could either stay overnight in Beijing and leave the next morning, or we could catch a flight to Los Angeles that would leave in three hours at 9:00 p.m. I was exhausted and the hotel room sounded like heaven to my tired soul, but at the same time, I knew in my heart we needed to get on that plane. Jimmy talked me into it with the promise that he would care for Lulu on that flight so I could get the sleep I desperately needed. A deal was struck, and my husband stayed true to his word. Thanks to a little help from a friend (Xanax) on the consistently bumpiest flight of my life, I slept at least eight hours of that eleven-hour flight and woke up feeling like a new person. Lulu and Jimmy slept well, too. We thanked God that we made the choice we did.
Lulu became an American citizen at LAX, and we were beyond THRILLED to be on American soil again! There's something about that trip that makes you so grateful for communication--gone with the VPN's and worries of getting on internet. We felt connected again, and it felt really good! I know...first world problems. I was able to confirm that my dad was doing well and would be released to go home the next day. Our amazing village at home had rallied to pick up our kids at school and made sure they were covered for the weekend with sleepovers and playdates. It's the stop-and-drop-everything situations like that--when you see friends pull through for you in the real desperate times--and you reflect upon how blessed you truly are with good friendships. I was thankful to tears.
We boarded the last glorious leg of the trip from LAX to Fort Lauderdale with our newest American citizen on a red-eye flight that departed at 10:00 p.m. (2 a.m. EST). It was another amazing flight for Miss Lulu. She truly was an angel, and I still can't believe she handled all that travel the way that she did. It had been over thirty-six hours. Phew. We landed just after 6 a.m. in Fort Lauderdale on Mother's Day and our trusty friend/photographer, Brooke, was there to capture the insanely happy looks on our faces. So, finally, a month later, I share with you our airport pictures. I cannot even begin to explain the relief. There's just no place like HOME on Mother's Day...or any day for that matter. Thank you, Jesus.