There are bad days, and then there are really bad days, and then there are days that you don't know how you'll make it to the end of. That is the kind of day I had yesterday.
My grandmother suffered a stroke a year and a half ago. Since then she's been paralyzed on half of her body and unable to leave her bed. My mother put her in a home so she could have constant care. Recently she took a turn for the worse and the doctors said it was only a matter of time before she passed. So I decided I wanted to get up there this weekend and see her so I could say goodbye.
This really couldn't happen have happened at a worse time. Christmas is less than a week a away and we're low on fund because of shopping for gifts, and the dog had to have surgery last week which cost over $400. Obviously seeing a loved one in their final days takes priority over all else and that's how I knew I had to go. So Leslie went on-line and found the best tickets she could from Atlanta to Hartford. Unfortunately, each way there would be a layover.
Then word started to come in about the impending snow storm in Connecticut. My mother called me on Thursday and said she was worried about me coming up. The way I looked at it, I would spend all of Friday trying to get up there. I didn't care what I had to do, I was going to Connecticut to see my grandmother.
Friday comes and I'm on the plane to Charlotte for my first layover. So far so good. I talked to my sister after I landed and she said the snowing hadn't started yet, and so far my flight was unchanged. No problem. Then the announcement came that the flight was canceled. So I got in line at the terminal to see what was the next possible flight I could get on. They got me a ticket on the 7:45pm. It was not even 11am. This was going to be a long day. After talking to Leslie, she insisted that the FAA website said the Hartford airport was still taking flights and I should push to get on another airline. So I got in line for special services to see what could be done.
I've been in my share of long lines in my time, and we lived in the land of theme parks for a while, so I've been training for long lines for a while now, but the US Airway Special Services line is the mother of all lines. It would be two and a half hours before I reached the end of it. And not before receiving tragic news.
While in line I talked to my sister and Leslie and a couple co-workers just to keep busy. Everyone knew I was stuck at the airport, so I wasn't surprised when a call came through from my mother. Unfortunately, the she had news that I hadn't expected. My grandmother had died earlier that morning. I felt my heart sink in my chest. "Hold it together," I thought. I didn't want to start crying and become a giant mess in the midst of a bunch of strangers.
Suddenly my entire day had been altered. Was I still going to come, she wanted to know? Could I possibly go back to Atlanta? "There is going to be a service next weekend so maybe it would be best you just came up then," she suggested. I couldn't focus on anything. The wind was knocked out of me and the least of my concerns was airplane flights. I had missed my chance to say goodbye to my grandmother.
Leslie later insisted I did all I could, but did I? She's been in the hospital for a year and a half and I selfishly avoided going to see her. When my grandfather died a two years ago, the last time I saw my grandmother, she didn't even recognize me and that really broke my heart. I didn't want to replay that. I guess I figured I'd see her at some point. I guess I figured I'd have more time. Maybe I should have dropped what I was doing and gone up there two weeks ago when my mother told me she stopped eating? I know there is no point kicking myself about it now, but this is very similar to what happened with my grandfather. I never got to say goodbye, and I've been haunted with guilt ever since.
Standing there in the special services line it was necessary for me to switch gears from emotional to practical. After a handful of phone calls the decision was reached that I would return to Atlanta and fly up to CT the following weekend for the service. Unknown to me at the time, many flights into Atlanta were being canceled and delayed from being held up in the northeast. The next flight into Atlanta was 8:40pm and I got on standby for the 5:20pm and that was really the best that could be done and I'd just have to deal with it.
So I spent the day in the airport. I managed to keep it together and focus more on my hatred for airports and less on the loss my grandmother. I managed to get onto the standby flight which didn't end up departing until around 7pm.
Leslie met me at the airport in Atlanta, but before getting into a shouting match with an airport worker which ended with her shouting "MERRY-FUCKING-CHRISTMAS!" I flew to North Carolina to spend a day in their airport and fly back. 13 hours and who knows how much money wasted. All for nothing.
In the end, despite having what will go down as one of my worst days, life still manages to throw something at me that's worth smiling about: