What Did She Say

My mind is always open

(Excuse me for dipping in and out of past/present/future tense in this post. I realize it, I’m just to lazy to fix it.)

I tagged along on a work trip to Whistler, BC last week. And it was amazing. There were about a dozen of us in a chalet in the mountains. Pretty freakin’ fantastic. My partner and I were on the same flight there, but we had separate flights on the way back. (He booked through work, and I got on the same plane there, but wasn’t able to on the return.) Our return flights, however, were only scheduled to leave 20 minutes apart and arrive 15 minutes apart. What would you do? That’s right. It’s a race! #racetoTO

a plane tweet 1

There were four of us returning to KW from Vancouver. Two on the first flight and two on the second. I had driven with my partner to Toronto (and I had his keys in my purse on the journey home.) The other two had driven together, as well. (This eventually matters.)

We check the flight statuses on the way to the airport. Flight one is delayed by 15 minutes. Ha! Even MORE of a race now. We’re scheduled to leave at almost the exact time. And even better, our gates are right next to each other so we can see each others’ planes.

#racetoTO

The view of their plane from ours.

I was on a 737 and he was on a 777. Of course, we’re being all cocky and joking around about who’s going to win. We decided to base the “finish line” on touchdown time. It was on.

We both board. We sit at the gates. And OUR plane leaves first. YES! Feeling pretty good about winning this thing. Of course, now we have to go dark for the next five hours. We won’t know the progress of each others’ flights until we land in Toronto. (Or will we….)

Everything goes along as normal. I post to Twitter and Facebook about said race.

Then, upon take-off, just as we leave the tarmac, there’s a very LOUD sound coming from something vibrating. And it doesn’t stop. I said, “Um. That’s not normal.” The guy next replied, “No. No it’s not.” When we stopped our immediate acceleration and levelled off a bit, the sound went mostly away. Then the captain came on. He said, “Good evening. You may have noticed a vibration coming from the left side of the plane. We need to head back to Vancouver and find out what that was.”

Deep breath.

Not so much focused on the race anymore. We were obviously gonna lose at this point anyway.

The vibration sound was when the first “Oh god. Things could go very wrong here” thought ran through my head. Then logic beat it back. “Nah. It’ll be fine.”

The weather outside was horrid. Or at least looked that way as we flew through it.

That fear came back again. It was the first time I’ve ever truly felt the real possibility the situation I was in could lead to my dying. That I may not make it back. The first thought was my kids.

There was also an interesting feeling that came along with that fear of dying – of dying too soon. I felt a certainty. A calm. I was reassured knowing that everyone that is special to me in this world knows it. They know exactly how I feel. I didn’t have a laundry list of people I needed to contact to tell them I loved them. I’m confident everyone I love deeply, knows I love them deeply. And it’s only in that moment I became truly aware of that. I had no regrets of things I hadn’t done in my life. What I was sad about was the future that would no longer be, should this end badly.

I did get out my phone and type a brief note to my kids. Ever wonder what you’d say to your kids if you had a very brief amount of time to do so? Now I know. This is what I put down. This is what I would leave behind, hoping they would be able to read it if I were taken from them that night.

“I’m sure everything will be fine. But in case not. Alex and Zach, I love you both more than anything. It’s ok to be sad. There are so many people that love you and will keep you safe.

Always hugging you.

Love, Mommy.”

My hope was for them to have something tangible to carry with them. I tucked my phone in my purse. I left the notebook app up so it would be the first thing seen when my phone was unlocked. I had hope it would survive if I didn’t.

I also wrote a brief message to my partner, but he’s heard that same message before. There was nothing I had unsaid, and I find great comfort in that.

The captain came on again and said, “You may notice emergency vehicles as we descend. They are there to follow us down the runway.”

Huh. “Follow us down the runway.”

I began to put my shoes back on (knowing we were going to have to change planes) and it was then I realized how badly I was shaking.

I have never been so logically sure everything was going to be fine and scared shitless at the same time.

It was surreal. Looking down and seeing all those emergency vehicles. Lights flashing. Waiting. Waiting for us. Waiting for us and our emergency landing.

IMG_8217

The emergency vehicles ready and waiting.

And we touched down. BAM. A pretty big bump. Biggest I think I’ve ever felt. But we were down. And there was applause. And I could breathe again. I would see my babies again. Hug them again. I would touch my partner again.

The emergency vehicles followed us in. About a half dozen of them. It was all unbelievable. Unreal. Something from a movie.

We ended up back in Vancouver about an hour after our scheduled take off time.

And now, up in the air themselves, my partner and flying companion were clueless about what was going on. They wouldn’t know anything until they landed. They were flying assuming we were just ahead of them. Wondering if they’d pass us and land first. Win the race. #racetoTO

We ended up leaving about 5 hours after we were scheduled to. We were boarding our plane exactly as the others touched down in Toronto. And I had his keys. He could have gone back with the other KWer on the flight (a close friend.) I could have driven his car back. But they waited. They waited 5 hours for us in Toronto. I was SO happy to see them waiting at the gate.

Here are some of my tweets from that night. I was able to get service on our way back to Vancouver, so there are some tweets from the air. Read from the bottom for chronological order.

a plane tweet combined

So, we lost the race. By about 5 hours. But we lived to tell the tale.

That’s a big win.

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