A couple of weeks ago, my mom called to tell me that my very first friend ever has breast cancer. Kaitlin and I have stayed close ever since we were kids but we have that kind of a friendship where you don't talk for a really long time and then when you finally do, it's like no time has passed. We both feel strongly that ours is one of the best kinds of friendships because we can accept that we are busy in our own separate lives and don't always have time to keep up to date with each other. Neither one of us feels any ounce of guilt or resentment towards the other...only love, support and forever sisterhood. I know this to be true because we frequently check in with each other on the matter to be sure the other person still feels the same way.
After my mom's call, I had a few days of wrestling with some guilt about being out of touch enough to not have heard the news directly from my friend and uncertainty about how exactly to show my support. I got it in my head suddenly that I wanted to go and see her before she started her chemo...which was coming up the next week...in Vermont....I looked up the price of plane tickets and laughed out loud when I saw the cheapest flight. I immediately started brainstorming about how to show my support from afar, but I couldn't get the thought out of my head that I wanted to show up on her doorstep, give her a huge hug and chat the day away like the old days. One day, I was reading to Zoe while Owen napped and was fighting sleep as I read aloud (as happens every single day in the afternoon while reading books to Zoe). At one point, I realized I was still talking/reading out loud even though I had dozed off for a second but instead of saying the words from the book, I heard myself saying "....because that's what you do for a friend".
I decided to put myself out there and email my cousin Kelly, a pilot for jetBlue. Kelly and I keep up with each other on Facebook and shared a rich childhood but I was afraid that he would be put off by my randomly writing for a favor. When we first moved out here to Colorado, Kelly had told me that if I ever found myself in a pinch, needing to get back to the East Coast, he might be able to help me by sharing one of the limited amount of very affordable passes he gets as an employee. He'd warned me that I'd have to be willing to be a flexible traveler, something I'm far from being, especially since having kids. At that time I felt grateful for the offer but sure I'd never take him up on it, so had put it out of my head....until now. So, I sent a somewhat rambling, apologetic message to Kelly explaining the situation and my "pipe dream" and said that I knew it probably wasn't possible but that I would have kicked myself if I didn't at least ask. Kelly almost immediately wrote back saying he would be happy to help and we spent the next week or so calling, messaging and texting each other to work out the details. All this while, Kelly was first on vacation with his family and then traveling for work so he went out of his way big time and I'm so touched, I can't even put how grateful I am into words.
To make a long story short, the formation of this crazy plan went from "there's no way I can pull this off, I don't even know why I'm entertaining the thought" to "wow this is really happening" within a week or so. I was on standby for a red eye flight (11:30pm MT-5:30am EST) Sunday night/Monday morning (which I barely made it onto...if the "Cook Family" hadn't been a no show, I would have had to turn around and go home) and had a car rental reservation waiting for me (thanks to my brother Ike) so I could drive the 3 hours up to Vermont immediately after landing. The plan was to surprise Kaitlin by showing up at her house, hang out with her for the day until my mom got off work at 5pm, go to my mom's to have dinner with her and my sisters, brothers-in-law and nieces and nephews then drive to Ike's house in the Boston area to sleep a bit before heading back to the airport to try and get on a Tuesday morning (8:50am departure) flight. The Tuesday morning flight had me nervous because the next flight out wasn't until that evening. This would mean that I'd have to call on a team of friends/neighbors who were all willing and ready to help with the kids if need be. I knew they were all happy to help but it felt like such a huge favor...luckily I ended up making that flight, after having a near heart attack when the customer service rep there said "Hmmmm...I don't think I have much for you.......I'm sorry......all I have are middle seats." Woohoo!!
Somehow though, this crazy plan actually unfolded exactly as planned. The only thing that didn't play out the way I'd pictured was that Kaitlin ended up finding out I was on my way before I got there. Her mom Dianne had been forced to let the cat out of the bag only when she was left with no other choice. She kept the secret as long as humanly possible and let it out when it was perfectly clear that if she didn't, Kaitlin would not be home when I got there. It didn't matter though--she was still surprised and we were able to spend a really great day together yesterday.
To top this awesome trip off, while in Vermont, we found out that our pregnant sister-in-law Katie (coincidence!) was being induced that day and that the baby would be coming soon (they also live in the Boston area). As I drove back to Boston late Monday night I secretly hoped that the baby would magically enter the world as I was on my way so that I could go straight to the hospital to hold him or her for at least a few minutes before heading back to Colorado. I pictured this kooky crazy ending to this kooky crazy trip and admitted that I was now officially pushing my luck. I told Ike about it the next morning and he and I laughed as we talked about how it would have been a perfect "season finale"....all of us ending up in a hospital room together, passing the baby around, being too loud, crowding Katie and Wally, etc. Sure enough though, there was no word about any magical births during my drive. While at the airport in the morning, I looked at my phone at exactly 8:15am and thought "okay, this is it--we'll be boarding in 5 minutes" and knew I'd have to wait until I was home in Colorado to hear the announcement. As soon as we landed, I turned on my cell phone and was greeted with a perfect picture of my picture perfect new little nephew Nicholas Anthony Grabowski, born at 8:16am. Welcome to the world, little guy!