With all of us having to depart on our own and turn in rental cars, it's always a nice relief when we all arrive at the waiting area at the gate together.
We killed some time with selfies.
And, Whitley decided to give everyone a subdued performance of "Let It Go".
That little guy in her hand is "Gilbert". She was letting him get a chance to experience the fun of flight. =)
We touched down in Boston knowing a very special person was waiting on the other side of the gate.
This gal actually went as far to purchase a refundable ticket to Chicago so that should could get beyond security and meet up with us during our layover. Originally, the layover was supposed to be longer, but Delta moved back our departure time from Orlando, so we only had about 90 minutes to spend with her.
But, 90 minutes was way better than nothing - and clearly, as Whitley is demonstrating, we EMBRACED every moment of it. =)
I love it that she's only seen Heather on a few occasions since Heather left this time last year, but Whitley remembers her and loves her so much.
I love Heather so much too.
We decided to take over GATE 11 and turn it into our own personal picnic areas as we partook in Wendy's for lunch.
And, we did our best to gleam every piece of "new" news from Heather as we sat there. And, then, we got everybody set to take some pictures.
Since we hadn't taken a group photo that successfully in Disneyworld, we asked if Heather would do the honors for us.
Maybe this one's the best? It's always hard to determine....
Talk about making the most of a long travel day. I can't imagine the kind of sadness we'd all be feeling with such a long, discouraging travel day if it wasn't split up by the presence of this amazing gal. We all care about her so much. What a blessing that Delta put our layover in Boston - and how incredible of her to make the drive and take such an effort (and potential financial risk if it didn't work) to see us!
Our next layover was in Salt Lake City. Beautiful, huh? It was supposed to be a tight connection to start, but we lost some time in our take-off from Boston. It felt like "Amazing Race" as we were literally running - clear across the airport to the area where you have to walk outside to board the itty-bitty airplanes. I was so impressed with Steph's stamina as she ran while carrying Whitley through the airport (Travis was detained trying to secure their stroller that was gate-checked). She even had to take the time to change her in the restroom. It was tight. The Schillings and Rileys all got aboard. Then Steph. Then Mom and Dad (who were seated in the rear of the previous flight). Finally, Travis stepped through the door onto the plane and our whole group (which felt like half the plane full), cheered loudly. We were airborne soon after.
What an incredible flyer Whitley turned out to be. I slept on every leg - I was not doing well with my headache and was keeping afloat only by alternating some pretty heavy pain-killers just to keep above the nausea or any other symptoms that would make flying purely miserable. But, Whitley, she barely slept at all - but, was so good on board.
And, that's it of the pictures. We arrived in our airport by about 10:30pm and were actually home by 11pm. (Again, we love that Eugene airport!).
It wasn't until the afternoon of the next day, when I found myself alone, shopping at Fred Meyer, that I got really sad. Tears were barely kept at bay as I loaded items in my cart - and struck up a conversation with the cashier about our trip. Once I got back into the car - oh sheesh. What a mess. We were all feeling it - well, most of us - maybe not the guys so much... But, at different moments, it all hit that we were no longer a floor apart (Michele's room was literally on top of ours), down the hall (Mom and Dad) or even a door apart as was the case with the Whites.
Ultimately, I think Whitley phrased it best when she said the next day, "I miss 'my people' - I miss my 'everybody!'". Seriously, Whitley, that was the bottom line for me too. Beyond the rides, thrills, atmosphere or experiences, it was being with my "everybody" that made it so special. Thank God this "everybody" is part of each others' lives more than just once every five years...
PRICELESS MEMORIES DAY TEN:
- Gathering everyone in the airport as a family one more time before we left (selfies and solos).
- Walking out of the gate in Boston and embracing Heather.