That is why, with mere days’ advance notice, my husband is now on his way to the United States to meet the newborn and be featured in a lot of simcha photos.
Back to my daughter. She has made her travel arrangements weeks in advance, endured extensive wailing and recriminations for abandoning her family and surrogate family in Eretz Yisrael, deliberated over which essentials to pack (seemingly deciding: everything) and is now physically, if not emotionally, ready to bid us farewell. Her “other family” buys her a beautiful and practical gift, showers her with hugs and kisses, and lovingly prepares a personalized album of their photos and personal letters (with some scribbles and handprints contributed by the younger kids). We basically just say good-bye.
Her flight is at an obscene hour of the morning and entails a stopover in each direction. My husband drives her to the airport in middle of the night and returns to catch a few hours of sleep before Shacharis and sending the younger kids off to school.
At about 7:30 a.m., when we are certain that our darling daughter is a couple of hours into her flight, the phone rings. It is our darling daughter. She is not a couple of hours or even a couple of minutes into her flight. She is at Ben Gurion International Airport, where my husband had deposited her several hours earlier. Her plane has experienced technical problems, so after about an hour on the tarmac, the flight is canceled and the passengers are instructed to disembark, collect their luggage, and return to the check-in counters. All the weary passengers comply. Unfortunately, none of the airline personnel appear to have heard the announcement. The bank of check-in counters remains unmanned.
Finally, one harried airline agent shows up to deal with the large contingent of unhappy passengers. The going is slow, to say the least. At long last, all of the passengers are rescheduled to depart on an early afternoon flight to New Jersey via Toronto, with another airline. Because of the prolonged delay in getting service, they now have to scramble to the new check-in counters, recheck their luggage, go through security again, and hustle to the new gate before boarding begins. Did I mention that they have nothing to eat? And, what are the chances of getting special kosher meals on the new flight? Just some food for thought.
Anyway, the exhausted group of passengers arrives at the newly assigned gate, ready to belatedly commence the trip. Alas, it is not to be. Boarding time comes and goes, but no boarding takes place. An announcement. There is a malfunction. In the next half an hour, it will be determined whether the malfunction can be corrected, or the flight will be canceled.
Two hours later, the flight finally takes off, and the bone-weary passengers breathe a collective sigh of relief. Prematurely. The flight is diverted to Nova Scotia, where it is refueled and a new crew boards. Eventually, the plane lands at its scheduled destination, nearly four hours late. By now, the connecting flight has long since departed and there are no additional outbound flights until morning.
So my daughter and her traveling companions spend the night in Toronto. My son, who is awaiting her arrival, tells me that she is camping out in the airport overnight. Thankfully, he is mistaken. My daughter informs me that the passengers are being put up in a hotel for the night, albeit in actuality only three hours, until they must check-in once again.
And, so, I find myself tracking the flights incessantly, while anxiously waiting for both my husband and my daughter to contact me and announce that they have arrived safely. The anticipation and tension are taking their toll; I am barely hanging on by a thread. It is no wonder studies show that air traffic controllers have one of the most stressful jobs of all!