Monday, July 18, 2011

The Miracle Reunion

Wow!  That one simple phrase kind of sums it all up for me right now.  I sure wanted to Blog about all of this over the weekend, but with all the travel back and forth from Chicago to Las Vegas to Boise and back, the work and obligations in between, there was no time.  So, I left it all in the good hands of my posts on Facebook until I could get this posted in my Blog.

Now, where to start.  I suppose, I'll try to begin where I left off and go from there. 

I left for Las Vegas Thursday evening for my weekend leadership conference. I was on overdrive and could not determine which of the numerous emotions were fueling me becasue of the very little sleep that I had over the past week due to my anticipation of meeting my father.  Nevertheless, like everything else I've ever done, I persevered through it.  I arrived late in Las Vegas.  Really no fan fare to share.  As it was late and Steve was still in his meetings.  I let him know I had arrived and waited for a bit.  When I did not hear back, the hour got later and since I already checked into the hotel, I decided that sleep would be welcomed and I called it a night, as the next day brought the prize.

I was up early the next day to take care of leadership responsibilities and meeting planning with my team.  Because they were so amazing and were pinch hitting for me that evening and Saturday at the conference, I shared  the details they were not aware of from my amazing story with all of them.  I could see that the flood gates opening for some, as they witnessed the pure joy and happiness on my face, as I shared it with them.

I attended the conference kickoff at 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon, was able to be introduced with the team and literally grabbed my suitcase and ran out at 2:20 p.m., to catch a cab for my 4:25 flight to Boise for the big event and yes, my brother's wedding too.  Keep in mind that I would have to return to Las Vegas sometime immediately after the wedding in order to make my 8:15 a.m. presentation on Sunday morning.

The Las Vegas airport was packed when I arrived sometime at 3:00 p.m., and entered the security lines.  They seem to have the system down there as the lines moved quickly and efficiently.  A flood of emotions came over me the minute I got through security.  I realized because of our work commitments that we really had no opportunity or time up to this point to share in my feelings, thoughts and emotions about all of this with my partner, Steve.  If I missed saying before he was at the same leadership conference.  I believe part of the problem in sharing those feelings for me, is that there was never really adequate time to allow me to really share the depth of my overwhelmed state of emotions for fear that I could not  get to the next moment in this process without  falling apart. I hope that makes sense to some.  Nevertheless, I worked through that missed opportunity and knew that I would certainly make up for it on my return.

It was a very quick flight to Boise.  Before I knew it, I was debarking and looking for the Southwest counter to check into my return flight, which would be in just 24 hours.  I wanted to do this now before I headed off to the hotel.  I was in my taxi before 7:20 p.m., and was on my way.  That ride seemed to take an eternity.  Once I finally arrived and checked in, I called my soon to be sister-in-law, Trina again, to let her know that the "eagle had landed" and that the delivery of the prize was all in her hands now.  If I did not share it with you, Trina and I chose not to tell my brother, Jim, that I was coming to the wedding. She wanted it to be a surprise.  My brother and I had not seen each other in three years.  We would see each other again with our father, together. So, you can see that there were even more emotions attached than you could even begin to imagine. 

Trina referred to this reunion and rightfully so, as a miracle; and it was; no doubt about it.  She encouraged me to take some time to  get myself together and freshen up while she round them all up and head over to the hotel.  I did jsut that and it was a great suggestion too.  It really helped get me prepared and calm me too.

I was to meet them in the lobby of the hotel.  At first, I was taken back by the request, as I was unsure of what emotions that my dad, brother or I would experience at the expense of the public.  I am not a public person with my emotions, so this was going to be another new experience for me too.  Nevertheless, I was ready for it and really that was not my focus.  What the heck was focus at that point anyway?

I'm not sure why, but I needed to talk and share this moment with my daughter Chenin, who has been just as pleasantly overwhelmed by all of this as her dad.  So, I called her as I waited for everyone to arrive.  We talked about the moments in time leading up to this meeting.  For the first time, I was able to listen to her share her feelings about having a "grandfather" now and she shared the content of the recent letter she received from him with me too.  Amazing and of course made me even more emotional. It seemed like we were on the call for an eternity and I was certainly a nervous case too.  Finally, I asked her if I could call her after I met dad, so I could breath a bit before the meeting.  We ended the call and I stood up to move about to let some of the nervous energy out.  I must have been standing by the side window to the entrance of the hotel around 8:15 p.m., when I saw them pull up.  Trina was the first one in the door and I could see the pent up emotions on her face as she walked over to the side in preparation for me to meet my father and share with my brother that I was here for his wedding too.

My dad walked through the door right after Trina.  I am not sure what happened next because my body went limp and my knees buckled.  I had to catch myself from losing my balance.  I leaned down to catch my breath and to catch myself from falling over.  I was up, white as a ghost and then the embrace from my dad.  It was like he was making up for all 52 years in that one brief moment in time.  I could tell that he did not want to let go and neither did I.  The tears could not be stopped from anyone within eye range.  All caught on videotape thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law.  Finally, I could see my brother in complete shock and disbelief that I was here to share this with him too.  Let's face it, it was my persistence that provided this incredible gift, I wanted and needed to be part of this gift too.  Regardless, my brother and I embraced and whatever kept us apart for the last three years vanished in that moment.  We laughed about it the next day, as neither of us could remember why.  I finally formally met my new sister-in-law.  Because we set this surprise up together over the past week, we were already connected in a major way

I was back over to my dad again; another embrace and then I embraced Sandy, I did not know her, but I did from our conversations over the phone.  Then, I had the proper introductions through all the emotions and tears of joy.  I called my daughter and shared the moment with her over the phone.  She was with me from every minute up to that point and I wanted to her experience this with me too.  Trina  took a photo of my dad and I immediately following (above) and I sent that photo via social media and that any my text went viral to all family and friends.  I can only imagine what they were feeling from the responses that were pouring in from all over the country.

While I am not  sure when or where, we all sat down and took in the moment and looked at each other.  Quite a moment all by itself.  Then it was coffee time for the family.  My dad loves why does that sound familiar?  The sharing and the catch up began, as much as we could get into while we got to know one another. One thing is for sure the emotions shared then was pure joy and happiness by all.

We finished coffee at "A Cup of Joe," the first one dad ever bought for me and headed back to the hotel for the night of celebration and dancing to honor Jim and Trina. We all went back operating on no sleep, but plenty of love and happiness to get cleaned up for the pre-wedding celebration.  Amazing what a nice pair of Jeans and boots can do.  I walked into the club at the hotel and immediately met Trina's family and their friend; truly wonderful people.  Dad and Sandy came down and then the story came together for everyone else too.  I heard many things that night, from "what a miracle" to "this should be an Oprah moment;" indeed it should.  My though is that it would make a very good a book and movie.

My dad can dance!  Now, I know where I get it from.  The women were going crazy as my 75 year old dad got out on the dance floor and boogied!  Sandy was having to slap the hands of one lady from touching her man.  Very funny and unforgettable moments in time.

Sandy is amazing!  I bonded with her almost instantly.  I have not been able to do that since my mom died 23 years ago and I told her so.  Jimmy and I referred to her as "mom" the entire time and she told us that she loved it.  You could see the pure joy in her face that her husband was reunited with his long lost boys, as she witnessed his joy and happiness.  That my friends and family is pure love!

There are more blogging moments from my whirlwind 24 hours, but I am going to savour them for a while longer before I post them for your reading pleasure, as they are definitely moments that need their own billing.  As a good friend of my posted over this past weekend, "I woke up to read on FB what was going to happen next. It is like a good book that I could not put down."

The story is far from over my friends and family. This new beginning has just begun.  It has many parts, family members to tell you about and stories shared. I look forward to sharing it with you here in my Blog.  If you were ever a skeptic about miracles like this happening, this is one that should help you BELIEVE.

I send my love and complete joy to you today and always!

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