We arrived back in Los Angeles late last night after a hefty dose of travel challenges. Denver is not the most hospitable airport, we discovered. They are the only airport we know of that refuses to bring the little Smart Cart around security for us to continue using on the other side. So there we sat, a tangled mess of children and carseats with no human means for getting to our gate. A kind supervisor eventually took pity on us and radioed ahead to United to request assistance to our gate. When the gentleman with the extra-wide wheelchair arrived, he promptly refused to push the wheelchair with the carseats in it. Even after the TSA agent assured him that she had just spoken with United about the request and that they had sent him to help us.
He would not budge, so Mercy ended up riding in the giant wheelchair, in all her footed-dog-jammie glory, while Doug carried two carseats and the wheelchair attendant carried another. I could have forgiven his grumpiness and his reluctance to help us. It was much harder to forgive him for taking us as far as the eating/shopping area in the middle of the terminal, asking us which gate was ours, and when we told him, telling us that he was going the other direction while dropping our carseat, ejecting our daughter from the wheelchair, and taking off.
I don’t know how we made it to our gate. Mercy stumbled along (it was two hours past her bed time at this point) while Doug miraculously walked with carseats balancing off of every part of his body. And when we finally arrived, we were greeted with the news that our flight had since changed gates and we were now flying out of a gate on the absolute opposite end of where we stood in that terminal. At this point, Doug and I were covered in sweat and Mercy was growing delirious and our flight was scheduled to begin boarding. I am sure that more than a few travelers told their loved ones about the crazy woman pushing a double stroller at high speeds through the terminal, calling out to the little blonde girl running beside her to keep running because the T-rex was right behind them and they were almost to the Great Valley where they would be safe.
When we boarded, Doug went on first to install the carseats, and I stood by the entrance to the plane with the three kids waiting to gate-check the double stroller. The looks we got from the other passengers were priceless. At one point someone referred to us as a herd. A herd.
We did ultimately encounter grace that night in the form of the sweet young man seated next to Doug. I honestly do not know how we could have gotten off that plane without his help. He packed up and carried the diaper bag backpack (and Mercy for a little while), and he accompanied us all the way to baggage, helping us load kids and carseats into our van while telling his friends repeatedly via cell phone that they would just have to circle one more time because there was a family he needed to help. What a contrast from the wheelchair dumping we had received a few hours earlier from someone being paid for their time.
Our stay in Denver was thoroughly enjoyable. It was great to be with Doug’s extended family and to see Mercy and Aaron delight in their cousins, aunts and uncles, and great Grandma. Other highlights included Doug singing a solo at his Grandma’s church, me being the only customer in a Starbucks not wearing a cowboy hat, a trip to the Denver Children’s Museum with one of my best friends, and a surprise date night with my husband courtesy of that same friend. I also had the pleasure of meeting Sally Morganthaler who was co-teaching the Fuller DMIN class that Doug was in Denver to facilitate. She was warm and kind and I was grateful for the chance to meet someone I have appreciated and admired from a distance.
As crazy as it was to travel as a “herd”, it was certainly worth all of the effort, and I am grateful to Fuller for helping make this trip a reality for our family. Watching friends lose loved ones last week has reminded me of how very important it is to do what it takes to connect with those we love.