With renewed vigour, I walked through the crowded hall towards the baggage claim. I recognized my sister, Stacie from a long way off. She had propped herself up against a trash bin. Stacie’s petite frame was raised up on her tiptoes as her eyes scanned the hallway with intensity. An image of her and her new husband decked out in their Sunday attire sitting on my living room couch flooded my thoughts. Has it really been three years since I’ve seen her last? That won’t win me the ‘best sister’ award. Thankfully her gracious heart knows how much I love her. Even though I am certain her quick tongue will take every opportunity to lash me over it.
She continued to search the people even though I was walking right towards her. I gave a small and indiscreet wave but she was unmoved by it. Her eyes darted from one weary traveller to another.
As I approached within a couple steps she still hadn’t made the connection. “Stacie.” I called out.
Her eyes popped in surprise as she zoomed in on me. “Wha... Cathie? What happened to you?”
“Happened? Nothing.” I said as my hand rose to smooth my dangling locks.
It was a tossup which facial feature opened the widest – her eyes or her mouth? She stuttered through an awkward hug. “Wow. Hi Sis.”
When she released me she kept a few of my long curls in her hand still. “Your... your hair is down?”
I released my hold on her. “Yes, it is. Do I look that bad?”
“No,” she said. “You know I love your hair. It never felt fair you got the Runway model hair and then shoved it mercilessly in a ponytail. Me? I got the stiff, straight, paper thin mess and have never had the smarts to put it in a ponytail.” She giggled and then hugged me again.
I have missed her pointed, yet encouraging words. For all the doubts I am toting around about why I am here, there is one loud and resounding answer. Stacie.
Then I heard it again in my heart. I have a plan for you. I paused a moment to consider where it came from. Stacie rambled on and on about her new job she started last week. My ears heard her, yet my heart did not.
Is that you God? Are you speaking to me? I haven’t heard Your voice for years. I thought You left me the same time that Mitch did. My head knew it didn’t make sense that God would abandon me, but I couldn’t feel his presence. Only His silence.
Stacie nudged me hard in the ribs. “You are tired then. I don’t think you’ve heard a word I said.” She laughed sweetly. “Are you going to wait until that red suitcase makes a few laps before you grab it off the carousel?”
As she spoke I saw the back end of my suitcase travelling farther from me. Thankfully it will return to me – unlike other things that I thought were mine.
I turned to Stacie and saw the concern dripping from her green eyes. “I’m a little tired I guess, but I really was listening.”
“Yah? What did I say?” Stacie asked.
She always calls me on my attempts to be misleading. “Um... you were telling me about your new job.”
“I will give you a half point for that one. But if you weren’t the waking dead I would expect more details than that.” She turned to her left and mumbled loud enough for me to hear. “I think the guy on the bench knew that much about our conversation.”
After a minute or two without conversation I felt the nudge in my side again. It jolted me to my senses. “Hey!” I said as I returned to inflict a painful retort to Stacie. I saw my red suitcase as it rounded the corner and made its approach to me.
By the time I retrieved and readied my suitcase to roll through the airport, Stacie had begun her monologue again. This time, I caught a few more words from her. Hungry. Long drive. Neale is happy to see me.
Stacie’s husband, Neale, is a native of France. He is one of the gentlest giants I had ever met. His voice is soft and his touch is even softer. Behaviourally, he is not your typical French man. Physically, he represents that dark, strong figure that embraces the cover of many French romance novels. He is perfect for Stacie, even if he hides her from sight when he wraps his arms around her. There is one thing I have appreciated about him more than anything else. It is his ability to temper Stacie’s bravado.
As Stacie and I stepped out the sliding doors of the De Gauille Airport I inhaled a surprising sense of freedom. Somehow, the air that entered my lungs felt unlike any other breathe I could ever remember taking. It was unmistakable how the smell of vehicle exhaust marbled with a surge of anticipation.
Maybe it was a good idea to come here.
Suddenly the words of my bathroom buddy came back to me. ‘You never know who God plans on you meeting.’ As the thought took root, I fluffed my hair one last time.
My sister and I strolled to the automobile parking lots, both smiling and looking forward to the next week. Even if for different reasons.
Check out Chapter Two, page one here.
Check out Chapter Two, page one here.