Well, today is October 17 (or it will be in an hour). A date with two very significant ties.
As I write I recall this day 3 years ago. Stephanie, Derry, Scott and I were bunked down next to Gatwick, awaiting our flight back to Tampa. The end of the "Deportation Debacle" had come. Just the day before a courier had delivered their passports to the Denewood in Sandown with nice new visas in them. All the struggle would be over. Little did we know what the next 3 years would deliver.
I can't put into words just how nervous I was flying over to London just a few short days prior. Horrified something else would go wrong, and no visas would be issued. That short visit across the pond was a blur. Get to London. Walk the streets of London soaking wet. Doctor visit, photos....the US Embassy (ugg). The 16th came and was the day we had to leave the island. I'll never forget us on the WightLink ferry looking back to Ryde Pier. Stephanie's mum (Christine), Aunty Mo' and Nana all there on the Pier waving. Then the folks that were a true savior during that debacle, whom I can never repay, drifted out of sight. I want so badly to return to that ferry, to that pier and see those 3 remarkable folks and such a wonderful island. It's a short train ride from the bustle of London, but seems a world away. We planned to be back for a visit this past summer, but, we all know those plans had to be changed.
But it all worked out that trip, and on the 17th we flew back to Tampa. All four of us. Through passport control and customs fine. Finally together in our new home. It is obvious I would change one thing that has happened since if I could. But that isn't possible. We've taken on our fair share of struggles, that is for sure. But we keep pushing on.
Since that day, I've truly had "my" family. Yes, I have a wonderful set of parents and siblings, but you all know what I mean. Stephanie. The boys and me. The core of what one is to do in life. I love them with all my heart. It aches when there is a struggle. There is no better feeling than to see smiles on them when good things happen.
I don't know how it happened, as the timing of the visa letter was far beyond our control. However it all resulted in October 17 being the date we got back.
The day also makes me think back 6 years ago. The worst day of my work life. It was the day my close friend and coworker, J.R., died on the job. I won't get into the details, but he died from a fall. I have the nightmarish memory of being in the room when his wife was told, as I picked her up at their house and got her to the hospital. I'd left work and talked to him less than an hour before it happened. And just that quick, he was gone.
J.R. had a wife and two teenage kids. He left for work one morning, like most all of us do, but this day he didn't come home.
It was heartbreaking on that day. But until that exact date 3 years later, I didn't truly realize how heartbreaking it was for his wife and kids. At the time I'd never had a wife or kids. When we got to our house here, I remember admiring the entry stamp on Stephanie's visa. It was then that I realized the date on the stamp.
It was then I realized what the true effect on J.R.'s wife and children must have been that day. I think we all just collapsed in a heap that night.
Take some time today, and each day, to appreciate what you do have.