It's my amazing brother-in-law who had the God-awful task of driving me to the airport after my last goodbye to my Dad on February 26, 2014.
We sat awkwardly in the car at the first intersection ... bundled up in silence, twelve layers of underwear, and a parka as we willed the car heater to live up to its full potential.
The light was red. I uttered my only words of the trip ... "This will be my one regret. I've worked so hard to live without regret, but I can't forgive myself for leaving him."
Awkward silence. Really nothing left to say after that ...
We drove on, and my brother-in-law walked me in to the Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport departures terminal. Bless him. My sister, my mentor, called from Toronto (she'd had to go on a business trip to Toronto the day before I left) as we were saying our goodbyes. I choked up. Tried to be strong for her and failed.
Summoned up all my courage to avoid breaking down again in front of my brother-in-law. Hugged him and thanked him for his amazing support through all of this. Support to me, support to my sister, support to my Dad, support all-around.
Ignored the tears in his eyes and the crack in his voice as he told me to be good, hug Kiddo and say hi to Smilin' Vic. Focused solidly on the strength in his stance and the warmth in his smile.
Turned towards the Security check-in, but slipped into the bathroom first. Once my bro-in-law was gone, went to get myself a double-double Tim Horton's coffee (bye-bye caffeine-free pledge) and snuck outside to sip on it as I puffed on a smoke or ten, forsaking the business class lounge for caffeine, tobacco and a "why bother?" attitude in minus 25C weather outside the terminal.
Boarded the plane with minutes to spare, chased a Gravol down with a couple of glasses of Rose champagne, and caught a tear-blurred view of the de-icing of our delayed flight.
Reclined my seat 'til it was flat, and fell asleep watching "Three Weddings and a Funeral". It just seemed right.
For the first time in my life, I wasn't excited about heading back to Smilin' Vic. Even the fact that I'd see my Kiddo in 14 hours after being gone longer than ever before didn't ignite a spark. I felt truly, truly numb.
I considered my life ... an expat life.
I wondered at the cost of travel, the cost of adventure. I wondered what it all boiled down to. I wondered if the only truly memorable thing about Expat-dom might be goodbyes.
It's been said that if we knew what fate awaited us, we'd never bother getting out of bed in the morning. I guess that's kind of how I felt on that long, long, long road "home".