My husband, son, and I boarded a plane and flew to the port city of New Orleans in 2003. The following morning, we would all board a cruise ship and head to Cozumel, Mexico.
We were made aware of a tropical depression forming south of the Gulf of Mexico. Our captain made an earnest attempt to keep our ship moving “full steam ahead” to try and outrun the storm. We were swiftly moving across this great gulf.
By the second day, everyone was walking like they were drunk…including us! They may have been, but we were not.
Thankfully, no dishes or furniture were moving around, but no one could walk in a straight line. We all thought is was a pretty cool experience.
Have you ever played ping pong and air hockey on a ship when it is gently swaying from side to side? It was actually quite comical.
As expected, our planned snorkeling excursion and all other activities were cancelled in Cozumel. We certainly did not allow that to ruin the fun we were having onboard. This particular cruise was more than adventurous without these excursions.
My husband took a laid back, easy-going approach to it all. His contented behavior was very reassuring to me.
He explained stabilizers and all of the inner workings of a ship. He may have been lying through his teeth, but I believed every word.
Then the inevitable happened…
Tropical Storm Bill was finally named and it was indeed, following us back to the mainland. We were always on the outskirts, but the weather did take a turn for the worse.
Now we were rocking. I don’t mean the partying kind either. Our ship was literally rocking. The sway that gently lulled us to sleep on the previous night had noticeably increased.
On the following day, for the most part, we had the ship to ourselves. Most everyone else was hunkered down in their staterooms. Unlike 90% of the other passengers, none of us were prone to sea sickness, so we chose to roam the ship and enjoy the journey.
Call us crazy, but several of us wanted to go on the main deck to see the storm on its approach.
The doors leading outside were unlocked so we did just that. The crew had tied down loose furniture, and appropriately roped off all the outer decks. There were understandably no outdoor activities.
We stood in awe of the massive storm brewing in the distance.
We kept our eyes on the outer railing of the ship. One moment we would see all water. Several seconds later, we would see all sky.
It didn’t seem quite as dramatic inside the ship.
The stabilizers were doing their job!
At this point, we understood the severity of the storm. I’m actually glad that we braved the outside, if only for a few minutes. We definitely did not want to be blindsided.
Tropical Storm Bill was gaining strength and moving faster, so I felt an urge to call my daddy on the mainland. I needed to hear his voice.
International calls from ship to shore were very pricey in 2003. I don’t recall the rate per minute but it really didn’t matter. That’s my point…it just didn’t matter.
My husband (Pop) knew that talking with my sweet mom and daddy would provide me an increased level of comfort in this tumultuous sea, so he encouraged me to call them.
He never batted an eye, nor did he make me feel rushed to get off of the phone.
My daddy would earnestly pray over the phone for our safe return. He would do so in such a way that after we hung up, I felt a gentle peace that only God can give. I just knew everything would be ok.
It may have been a $100 phone call, but whatever it was, it was worth every penny. Pop never told me, and I never asked.
If you need someone to pray, call my daddy. He instantly connects and doesn’t need WiFi to do it.
We indeed safely made it back to port in New Orleans. It was then, the bottom fell out of the heavens. Tropical Storm Bill’s outer bands created a lot of wind and dumped torrential rain around the Gulf Coast.
We were wondering if we would even make it to the airport that day. The van ride transporting us was a risky escapade in itself.
Hurricane Katrina would would unleash her fury in 2005, a little more than two years away. I can only imagine the havoc she unleashed. Looking back, our measly storm was a drop in the bucket compared to her wrath.
We were all still unusually calm. Maybe it was due to the police escort we had. I was just happy to be back on land! It wasn’t dry land, but it was land nonetheless.
We did finally arrive at the airport. We had only minutes to spare! We shimmied through the crowd to the ticket counter to check our bags. We had one eye watching the flight boards as they were fast and furiously cancelling flights.
Pop noticed increased frustration and frenzy escalating in the crowd. None of us wanted to be stranded in New Orleans for any length of time, or any other city for that matter.
I never felt we were in any immediate danger, but most people were definitely in a tizzy. We were not. We just wanted to get back to the Palmetto State.
My husband is always very level-headed, but I noticed his defined jaw pulsing. I knew he was thinking about different, potential scenarios that may arise. For now, we were just going with the flow.
I was concerned, but still very composed. I kept that international call from the previous day with my precious daddy close at heart. I felt that God still had this one covered.
My son was just feeding off how we were behaving so he was not worried in the least.
Pop stoically stood beside me looking like he was my personal bodyguard. He would not let me out of his sight. I felt as though I was the most important person in his world.
We continued watching the updated flight boards flashing “CANCELLED.” These cancellations started from the bottom of the board and worked their way up.
I am not a gambler, but it reminded me of one of those casino slot machines spinning and stopping sporadically. Our only three options were “Cancelled,” “Delayed,” or “On Time.”
Our flight number, departure time, and connection city to Atlanta was holding steady showing “ON TIME.”
I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I can’t make this stuff up y’all!
We literally boarded the very last fight out of New Orleans! They announced it when we boarded our plane during the flight safety instructions. All flights after ours were cancelled. God? Absolutely!
The plane struggled getting in the air quickly, but once it spit, sputtered, bounced, and bumbled around a bit, everything was A-OK!
Tropical Storm Bill would give our plane a good boost back toward the east. Of course, I’m being a little facetious, but this takeoff was the absolute worst I’d ever experienced.
I just knew we would still make our connection…or would we!
Touching down in Atlanta, we had only ten minutes to make it to the concourse on the other side of this massive airport. If you’ve ever been to Atlanta, you know this is physically impossible.
After a ride on the plane train, (people mover) to hurry us along, we would disembark at a full run. Our boarding time had passed for our next flight, but we wanted to make the attempt anyway.
It should really be no surprise! We did indeed miss the boarding call, but wouldn’t you know it! The airline held our plane knowing a small crowd was coming their way! God? Absolutely!
We were told our luggage possibly wouldn’t make it but if not, the airline would get it to us as soon as possible. I had my makeup in my purse so I was cool with that!
They whisked us into the cabin. We barely got our seatbelts fastened before we took off to our final destination.
We safely landed at our quaint, beautiful, small metropolitan airport and went to baggage claim just in case our luggage miraculously made it.
Again…I can’t make this stuff up y’all!
No surprise! Our bags were first around the carrousel, as they were last on the plane in Atlanta. They had a cotton, lime green cloth I had tied around the handles. This made them easy to spot. We grabbed them and headed to our home, sweet home!
We made it through the great escape from New Orleans, 2003, physically and mentally unscathed. It was an awesome and very adventurous trip that we all still talk about today.
Certainly, my son would be safe flying to Washington, D.C. all by himself in the upcoming year. I hope he paid attention on how to navigate airports…
This all happened thirteen years before my symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis began. It prefaces another pivotal story from my past that I wish to highlight in conjunction with this one. I will share it soon.
You may ask why I would write about something so far back in my past.
Allow me to elaborate…
Because it’s too good NOT to share again, the words of my older brother ring true as I read these memorable stories in print.
“Many times, we get so focused on our future, we often fail to see God moving in our lives. It is much easier to see more clearly when we stop, turn around, and listen for that still, small voice. It is then…and only then, as you look over the past, that all of the moments God has thread together to make up your life’s journey, will begin to come into focus.”
I’ve often heard my oldest brother say, “Love is not a feeling. Love is action.” (I’ve been blessed with two smart brothers!)
These stories matter to me! The mere act of penning stories onto paper would reinforce not only God’s enduring love for me, but also Pop’s!
God would reveal to me today, June 9, 2018…
MY BATTLE WITH RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS IS NOT ONLY MY BATTLE, IT IS ALSO MY SWEET HUSBAND’S!
When my symptoms began in June, 2016, I always felt I was in a boat all by myself. (No pun intended.) It was not only physically painful, it was also a mind game for me. My brain didn’t seem to be working properly.
No one seemed to listen and no one seemed to care. For me, RA tended to constrict and isolate me very quickly. This was something only I could deal with at that time.
There was absolutely nothing anyone could do for me except the simple act of being there, although much of the time, I really wanted to be alone.
God would have to see me through this one for two entire seasons. Summer and Autumn, 2016, were both a blur to me, but the journal I kept at that time allows me to write about it today.
I thought it was MY new season of life, albeit a horrible season, but now I get it! We would be in this together. From now on, I will say, it is OUR new season of life. Nothing after RA would ever be the same.
So what! We were experiencing tumultuous seas. This is the “in sickness and in health” part of our wedding vows. Pop and I had to change and adapt our lives together. A strong marriage will allow this to happen.
It would be difficult for quite some time, but calmer seas were ahead. It’s called perseverance, a great rheumatologist, and an even greater God!
We would both “carry on, and smile along the way.”
I can hardly wait to share the other sweet stories about Pop! Good memories with him are much easier to write about.
There’s plenty of tough ones to share about my fight with RA. Blogging about it is my free therapy.
I can honestly say, “I’M GOOD, I’M GOOD!”
Thank you traveling along with me! It definitely means a lot!
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18 KJV (always)