I sat down in my seat, and tears immediately filled my eyes. Fear and anxiety gripped me, and it was all I could do not to panic. I had no idea what to expect once we got to Spain. I couldn't have been more thankful for the sweet blue-eyed Spaniard blondie sitting next to me, traveling with her Daddy and her big sister. She was as cute as cute can be! I listened to their Spanish accents as they talked to one another and realized I wouldn't have any trouble understanding once I got to Spain.
I took some Dramamine right before boarding, so I did my best to stay awake until they served us dinner, and then I curled up with the blanket they gave me and the neck pillow I brought and hoped to sleep my way across the Atlantic for the 7-8 hours. The lights soon turned off, the little girl beside me fell asleep, and so did I. Our flight took off around 11:00 that night, and I woke up around six thirty the next morning, right before the flight attendants came around with breakfast.
I am so thankful I slept so well on the flight, because by the time we landed around 8 am Miami time, it was already two in the afternoon in Madrid. I ran my fingers through my hair quickly, chewed another piece of gum to hopefully help my breath, and hoped I looked presentable after sleeping all night on an airplane. I'd waited nine years to see Laura again, and this didn't make our meeting ideal. Her eyes would be glued to her brother, though, not to me. I didn't even know how much she even remembered me, to be honest.
I met up with Juan as we got off the airplane, we took a picture, and at some point we got our Spain stamp on our passports. I don't remember anything else, but apparently quite a bit of time passed between the time we landed and the time we walked out to finally see Laura. I had my phone as ready as I could to capture the moment, but while dragging a suitcase with one hand and tryiing to video with the other, I only got about 8 seconds on camera, all from behind. Laura's mom stood on the other side with her camera, catching Laura take off running past the barricades as soon as she saw her brother, running straight toward him with the first of her many huge hugs. Her mom said she'd been going crazy since the moment she woke up that morning and then it only got worse after we landed as she waited for us to get our luggage and get through immigration. It was a beautiful moment. That "little girl" had been longing for her brother for years.
Much to my surprise, when her arms were not wrapped around her brother, she showered me with just as many hugs and kisses. She remembered me. And her mom welcomed me with open arms.
We found a place to safely store our luggage for the next few hours, and then we grabbed a bus into Madrid to find a place to eat lunch and begin getting to know one another. My nerves began to settle very quickly, and before we knew it, everyone felt pretty comfortable together. (Though Juan's aversion to all things seafood still didn't change even after the next nine days of living on the Iberian peninsula. Lol)
One dream fulfilled. Next stop: a visit to the Real Madrid Soccer Stadium, a true soccer player's dream. And who better to experience the dream with than his precious "little" sister?
We could never have imagined the blessings ahead over the next nine days.
(On a sidenote, I just want to let you know ahead of time that I will not be posting very many "good" and clear pictures of Juan David and his sister, mostly out of respect for her privacy. Those of you that are close to me have probably already seen those pics, anyway.)