I really am not sure where to begin.
There was so much emotion leading up to our last day in the States (July 1); the emotion of planning and packing and logistics and goodbyes. We attended both services at our church so we could be officially dispatched to the mission field by our faith family. We had a big, farewell lunch with my children and their respective significant others at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor. It was a really good time, but it left me regretting that we hadn’t done something like that before.
And regret was part of the cascade of emotions I felt as we reached our date of departure from Tampa. We made an effort to see friends and say goodbye to friends. Drinks, dinner, phone conversations; we made it a point to get that all done before we left. Yet it took this unique situation to make that happen. It took us leaving the country on a permanent basis to schedule dinner with the neighbors who lived right across the street from us for nine years. I regret not making these get-togethers a regular part of our lives in Tampa, and I regret allowing myself getting consumed with work and schedules and – being totally honest here – laziness.
But off we went on July 2, boarding a plane in Tampa with our carry-on items and a pup in tow. I was worried there would be an issue with getting Max through security and onboard the plane. Thankfully there wasn’t. Our biggest dilemma – and one that is not very easy to think through – was trying to get Max to use the bathroom while traveling. Turns out training pads come in handy because not only did they give Max a place to tinkle, they gave me something to help clean up the uncommonly giant poop he took right in front of TSA. I am sure there is some ironic joke there, but I was more consumed with feelings of being mortified that the humor escaped me.
With the exception of the delays from Tampa to Miami and then from Miami to Santiago, D.R., the flights were uneventful. Max did relatively well in his travel backpack and seemed to let the confusion of everything display itself in the form of sleep. We all took turns snoozing and resting on the plane, and there was a sense of great relief once we landed at the airport in Santiago.