As I write this, we are going back to Connecticut today for Thanksgiving. I find myself less and less anxious to return to the New England winters I once loved as a kid. I watch the girl in front of me at San Francisco airport checking in her luggage with her flip-flops and wondered if I should have my brain checked for cracks. Do I really want to do this? Then in my mind’s eye, I could see my Dad from Florida complaining about the weather. I was going and liking it, mittens and all.
Originally, we were scheduled to return to Connecticut from California for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, however on Wednesday my oldest was to competing in the State Swim Trials for girls her age across the state. It was an event where the girls competed on a high school level and the fastest swimmers in the state were brought together to determine who would make championships three days later.
In a series of surprise victories, my oldest daughter placed among the top 10 in the state for free style. Repeatedly, I told my daughter how proud we were and how sad we felt that we weren’t able to return in time to support her. I sensed her disappointment. This would be a big moment in her high school experience and she wouldn’t have us there to cheer her on. It was difficult because I couldn’t just pull the kids out of school early in California and we didn’t realize she would come so far in her swimming endeavors.
As the date came closer, the heaviness in our hearts increased. Two nights before our trip, we sat around the dinner table in California discussing our plans.
“I feel so bad that we aren’t there to support Maegan” my daughter began.
“ Yeah” my son added, “we should really be there for her.”
Silence. The unspoken words sat in the seat at our dinner table that belonged to the child we all loved so much.
“Hey, lets try to leave earlier to make Maegan’s swim meet. We have a late day which means that our classes are cut in half and we can’t miss it.”
I looked at their faces. They looked at mine. We all knew we had to try. My husband was booked at a meeting across the country that he couldn’t postpone and was devastated to be missing this event.
Promising that I would try, I sat down at 11pm and attempted to reach a customer service representative at United Airlines. In an unbelievable turn of events, we were able to not only change the flight without penalty but to obtain signatures and assigned work from all of the kids teachers the following day. We would be going home after all.
Once we arrived, we hid in the bleachers. We didn’t want her to see us and lose her focus for the race. At the sound of the beep she dove into the water and competed with record speed. It was her best race time to date. As she hopped out, one of her buddies yelled her name. When she looked up, all she saw was a giant neon poster with “WE LOVE YOU MAEGAN” and her 10-year-old brother’s face peaking out from behind. She looked up, looked, and looked again. Her mouth dropped open and the tears formed in her eyes. Despite the cold Northeastern weather, there was warmth to November that we couldn’t find anywhere else but Connecticut.
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