Trapped in Transit
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
Volcanic ash in the sky from Chile had halted our connecting flight to Canada from Australia, so we were stuck in LA Airport. I remained optimistic as my husband and I waited in long, winding lines for six hours straight with a baby and toddler in our arms and seven bags. But by the fourth cancellation on the runway due to mechanical problems, my emotions were about to erupt like the lava gushing out of that Chilean volcano.
We were already four days late for an 18-day trip to visit my family for goodness sake! The last cancellation was the most frustrating of all because I was so close to my homeland at that point. I was starting to salivate like Pavlov's dog at the thought of Tim Horton's coffee and pancakes with maple syrup. To make matters even worse, the girls had finally fallen asleep after staying awake for the last 20 hours. We were forced to wake them up and leave the aeroplane to wait again in the overly-familiar terminal of LA Airport.
Lucy behaved like a typical one-year-old. When freedom arose, she darted towards the ramp to get back on the plane. I was struggling to get Eva off my lap to catch her before she escaped when a lovely woman who was sharply dressed and wearing beautiful brown leather heels and a tight, perfectly swept ponytail caught my eye and smiled back at me. Behind the woman were two young girls in little flowery dresses and matching sandals who ran over to Lucy and stopped her in her tracks. They took a hold of each of her tiny hands and directed her back into the busy airport. Lucy was now displaying a huge grin from ear to ear, gazing up at the older kids in adoration.
The name of the mother of the two girls was Beth. She was in her early thirties and her daughters were about eight and ten years old. The two older girls loved taking care of Eva and Lucy and my girls loved playing with older, more capable children. The four of them coloured in and shared snacks over the time we were trapped in transit. After waiting all day at the airport, we were all checked into a hotel for some much-needed sleep and a warm shower.
I was in the bathroom when I overheard my husband gently speaking to Eva as he put her pyjamas on, about one of the girls she had become friends with that day.
‘Eva, did you have anything you wanted to ask me about your new friend?"
Eva was happy to discuss how nice her friend was and how much fun they had playing together all day.
Then my husband prompted, "Did you wonder why she didn't have hair on her head like you do?"
Eva responded quickly and sincerely, "No, I didn't notice."
That was the end of the conversation.
Leaning against the hotel sink, I gazed into the mirror and thought to myself, sometimes I wish adults could be more like children.
The little friends continued to enjoy each other's company at breakfast the next morning. I was so grateful that we had been given the opportunity to meet this wonderful family and feel the positive impact it had left on us.
When we were finally able to board the plane the next day, everyone was verbally abusing the staff on the airline and complaining about everything. However, I felt a real sense of calmness. There were more important things to worry about in life than cancelled aeroplanes.
After feeling trapped in transit, we had been desperately trying to get somewhere, but I discovered that we had already arrived exactly where we needed to be.