…managed to sleep, that is, until about 1 AM, when I heard Jessica say, “Uhhh, I think I’m about to throw up.”
“Then go throw up.”
I followed her into the bathroom, running the “sick child” routine on autopilot while part of me still slept. Soon after, I returned to dreamland, but Jessica didn’t sleep anymore. One of her ears hadn’t equalized when we came into Miami, and the resulting pressure caused a sensation near pain and, apparently, nausea.
She made a similar trip to the bathroom while we gathered our things together at 4 AM to catch the shuttle. I gave her a few antacid tablets, hoping they would help. We arrived at the airport, checked in, and walked to our boarding area. Jessica stopped to greet a trash receptacle like a long-lost friend. So much for the antacid.
Our plane idled as we waited our turn for the runway. Through the little oval next to my seat, I could see the control tower for the airport, a charcoal silhouette pasted over the pulsing golden flare of the sunrise. Eventually the sun itself slipped out from underneath the paper, and the picture became unbearably bright. I closed the window shade.
The thought of the potential ordeal that another flight might be to my daughter in her current state distressed me greatly. Thankfully, though, she only needed to avail herself of the complimentary paper bag during the descent into Gainesville. We recommended that she bring an extra one for the trip back to Ocala, but on the way through the airport she shocked us both with the declaration that she was hungry! We assured her that we would probably stop and get some food along the way.
As we waited for our ride, I reveled in the cold morning air, the gentle warmth of the sun, and the wonderful fact that our flights were all behind us. At one point, I mentally got down on my hands and knees and kissed the concrete curb. If there hadn’t been other people around…
I was hoping that the entire church bus wouldn’t show up for just the three of us; the SUV that eventually appeared fit our collection of people and belongings nicely. We made one stop on the way back, at McDonald’s, to pick up breakfast. As we rode, we enjoyed getting to know our driver, the director of Highland’s Learning Center, who had kindly agreed to come and get us. We regaled her with accounts of our adventures in the D.R., from presenting the Gospel despite the rain to surviving the death-defying traffic.
“We” included Jessica, who had made a seemingly miraculous recovery after consuming a breakfast bagel. We concluded that a combination of inner-ear problems and stress had caused her illness, a source unlikely to be contagious. Therefore, after transferring our luggage to the trunk of our car in the church’s parking lot, we headed inside for the morning service. Our church family welcomed us warmly, and I basked in the fellowship, the worship, and the sermon with deep appreciation.
Back at our house at last, we rummaged up some food for an afternoon meal. Afterwards, we headed off in different directions. Jessica found a horizontal surface and crashed. Ben found a horizontal surface and crashed. I found a horizontal surface and hauled a suitcase onto it so I could start unpacking and putting everything away. Yeah, that’s me. Besides, I had coffee orders to prep for delivery that evening…
Eric was apparently unsatisfied with the 3 pounds of all-natural, organically-grown, gourmet, slowly roasted, and freshly ground beans that we delivered to him at his request, because at one point, he tried to swipe the basket of coffee and chocolate that we had presented to the Gilliam family. Have you ever heard a Doberman Pinscher growl? I have. It’s a sound that can make your blood run cold. It’s a sound that I wish I could reproduce at will, especially on certain occasions.
That was one of them.
However, having not that aforementioned talent, I contented myself with the non-verbal communication likely to accompany such a sound, including the Menacing Glare of Impending Doom. I don’t think that Eric even noticed, though… he was too busy trying to look innocent!
Later, when I unwrapped the package that contained my wall decorations, I found a small vase, a medium pile of shards, and a large pile of shards. Two pieces of the set had succumbed to the buffeting they encountered during the two-mile trek through the Miami International Airport. Well, okay, I like 3-D puzzles – and I have a bottle of Elmer’s glue. The previous picture showed the finished result; now that you know, you might be able to spot some of the seams.
A vague sense of unreality accompanied the following morning when I woke up in our own house. I gazed wonderingly at our once-familiar ceiling fan that now seemed like a strange object from a dimly-remembered dream. The feeling wore off after a day of laundry and grocery shopping, but while it lasted, it reminded me that no place on this earth is truly home. My life is Christ, and my hope is to know and love Him more.