Jeff and I had to go into Santiago yesterday morning to the Correos office next to the Cathedral. To collect a package left for us by a new Pilgrim friend. The streets were empty, but it got busier as shops started to open and Peregrinos awoke. Some just entering the square after a long journey. Whenever I walk (this time hobble) through the warren of streets in old Santiago I can’t help but think of Emilie. When she and I entered the City in July of 2017 it changed everything. So I was thinking of her a lot yesterday, sitting in a cafe drinking my descafeinado con leche.
And I felt her presence on the climb up to Orisson just a few weeks ago. Stopping to send her pics along the way.
‘I remember all that.’ She wrote back. ‘I know just where you are.’
It made me smiley and teary all at the same time.
And now, I can hardly believe I am saying this, but Emilie is coming!! You heard me. After nearly two years of being apart, our daughter is coming to Spain.
The last time I saw Emilie, we were standing in front of The Westin Hotel in Bellevue, Washington. She was getting into a Lyft heading to SeaTac to catch a flight. I hugged her and said ‘I’ll see you soon.’ But if 2020 taught us anything, ‘soon’ could mean never or forever. As we boarded our flight to Paris the next day, Jeff and I had no idea that soon would take a very long time.
That last day in the US was a weird day. It was the last time I would ever see my Dad. The last time we saw our kids. Like we stepped off the end of the world. If I had known then what I know now I would have hugged her longer while standing in front of that hotel. I would have said something profound, or maybe just said ‘Screw school. Come to Spain now. In two months you’ll start remote school for at least a year, anyway.’ But we didn’t know a storm was brewing as we stood there that day. And the storm clouds were coming our way. None of us could outrun it. So the months, and nearly years, have ticked by.
Perhaps it’s good she stayed in the US. Safe and sound. If she had come to Spain she would have gotten sick, right along with us. I would never have wanted that for her.
In times like these you have to keep yourself in check. You deal with one thing at a time or it’s too overwhelming. You talk to your kids long distance. You text and DM. You keep the worry to yourself. And you keep it light. Because there is no alternative to how all of you are living. And no chance you can change it. Just one thing at a time.
But, now, Emilie got the time off from her new job. And she texted me the dates. And she can come, if she follows all the rules that the US and Spain have laid out. So I took a deep breath and went online to Expedia, and I booked it. Hitting that final Purchase button, and getting the confirmation that it was done, was like a crack in the dam. Everything I had held back for nearly two years came pouring out. Finally, I didn’t try to stop it.
Ridiculously, I sat there and cried looking at the Expedia screen. Because this one isn’t just a travel itinerary. This represents so much more. Its hugs, and saying face to face all the things I didn’t when we were standing outside the Westin and the Lyft driver was getting impatient. This itinerary is about family. After all this time, it’s about everything.
The people working at the Santiago airport will probably call the police when Emilie comes through the Arrivals doors. Because there will be squealing , tackling and crying of epic proportions. But, between now and then I get to let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding and let all these pent up emotions go. Because, now I know 100% for sure. Never or Forever is finally here. And Emilie is coming.