I don’t know if it was the beautiful trees or engaging conversation, but my decades younger cousin, Megan, overshot the entrance to the Burlington, Vermont airport. It was a quick turnaround–maybe two minutes–and we were the only car at the curbside drop off. My luggage was hoisted on the sidewalk (I constantly overpack and buy too much in the journey) and we hugged it out. Megan headed toward the car, I turned to grab my bags and saw my mom walking out of baggage claim.
Frozen emotions kept me from breathing…from averting my eyes. No one had told me about this…seeing a loved one who had passed.
My feet, heavy with shock, did a slow-motion cha-cha step hesitant in knowing whether to go hug her or not…whether she knew me or not…so I stared and soaked up her every confident movement–it had been so long since I had seen her like that. In my heart, I knew it wasn’t my mom, and I wrestled with how to proceed, so I mentally kept recording every millisecond.
I turned to Megan for guidance, but she was frozen too…her look of amazed bewilderment mirrored mine. It wasn’t my imagination. Taking a deep breath I looked at her one last time; our eyes never met–I wouldn’t have been able to bear the thought of her not recognizing me. Then I trudged toward the entrance, mind whirring and gut-wrenching sobs I tried to silence. I rarely ‘ugly cry’ but after multiple security guards insisted, I took a Kleenex–they were right, I probably looked like a sleep-deprived raccoon.
It’s the unexpected that undoes me, but I get all done up again, knowing Mom’s more restored than who I saw.
Reunited: one of the last times Megan saw Mom.