This morning the sky in rural Connecticut is soft and gray, the breezes are cool, and the birdsong has been steady since four a.m. We are delighted to be here.
One never contemplates a journey over the Atlantic with little children without some measure of trepidation. Yet even my worst imaginings, had they actually come to pass, would have been cake compared to the reality.
In many ways, the details came together perfectly. We left the flat ready for our return, packed even lighter than I’d hoped and a friend offered to drive us in his car to Heathrow, thus sparing us two bus rides and a walk across town with all of our luggage. The girls sat quietly in a double umbrella stroller all through check-in, eating plums and staring at the people. Our plane was not delayed, and no one peed in awkward or unexpected places.
But just before we boarded the plane I began to feel very unwell indeed. It may interest Americans to know that in England, “ill” is usually the term. To be “sick” generally refers to vomiting. It is in the English sense that I use it now. I was violently sick seven times on the flight. I huddled in my hot, stuffy plane seat, worried about the baby (the unborn one) and shaking convulsively. Alex, meanwhile, (henceforward in this post to be referred to as “The Hero”) coped with me, the plane medic, and two tired and uncomfortable children (the flight was from about five to eleven p.m. their time). In the weird way that time is completely relative it was the longest flight of my life, and I’ve flown to China and back. After about a month of it I asked The Hero how long until landing. “Only three and half hours now, Sweetie.”
Then near the end, Norah finally fell asleep, curled up in her seat kitty-style. I knew she’d be crying and disoriented when she woke, and Harriet was already screaming on Alex’s lap. I was hot and sick and ready to cry with discomfort and irritation.
As we were landing Norah woke up. “We’re in America now, Norah!” I said, straining for a cheery voice. She stretched and smiled up at me. “Oh Mommy,” she said, “Aren’t we so blessed?”
And God, who is so good, was there: giving our family the rare-and-treasured opportunity to go home and see our loved ones, and giving me yet one more useful travel experience, such valuable training for my life. I lifted the round plastic window shade and the sunset blazed brightly into the cabin.
P.S. I think the baby is just fine. Apparently, I picked yesterday to come down with a flu bug, because Norah then had it throughout the night. We seem to be making our comeback now. We are tired–but happy.