It’s time to share my trip to Chicago.
In March, Jason found out that a manager’s seminar/meeting/conference that he goes to every year that was scheduled in Dallas was cancelled. The company offered a few other locations for him to attend which included Baltimore and Chicago. Baltimore is where all of Jason’s family lives and was very tempting, but the dates fell on Aaron’s kindergarten graduation. I truly am so sorry he didn’t get to go home, but Aar-Bear only graduates from kinder once. So Chicago it was! And the most exciting thing about Chicago was that Jason said I could tag along . . . and meet one of my dearest d-mommas, Tina Bell.
Tina was one of the first d-moms I connected with online. She found my blog in the very, very early days and connected with me on facebook. That was back in March of 2010. Tina has a daughter Ryan’s age who was dx’d 13 months before Ryan. As Tina and I grew to know one another, we began sharing pictures and stories with Katie and Ryan about each other (along with the rest of the family). They began writing one another, d-pen pals, in February, prompted by Katie. It has been a total joy and comfort to watch their relationship develop and grow. You can read about their budding relationship in my blog post Surprised by Letter.
Needless to say, at the thought of going to Chicago and spending a few days with Tina Bell had me giddy like a 14-year-old going to a Justin Bieber concert! We not only share our life with Ryan and Katie and dealing with D, but we share laughter, joys, accomplishments, struggles, tears and all the rest about life completely not related to D. She has become, along with a precious few, a kindred spirit. You know what I’m talking about, d-mommas . . . we love ALL our d-mommas. We all contribute to this wonderful community that understands and connects on a special level. But we all have those precious few that we have that special connection with, ones that we know if we had met before D or even without D we would have been great friends. And Tina is one of them for me.
So the tickets were bought, the hotel reserved and the countdown began.
We flew in on Monday evening pretty late. Jason was to be in meetings all day (8-5) on Tuesday and 8-2 on Wednesday and were scheduled to fly home very early on Thursday morning. Two whole days in Chicago! When I knew of the itinerary for Jason, I forwarded it to Tina and she made plans . . . the most awesome plans.
We arranged for Tina to pick me up at the hotel at 9:30. The day was to be simple. Breakfast, pedicures, to school to pick up and meet the Bell kiddos and just hang out in the suburbs for a while.
While I was brushing my teeth, I noticed that I missed a text from Tina from eight minutes ago, “Almost there! At stoplight maybe 5 minutes.” When I texted that I would be down soon; she said she’d be in the lobby.
As crazy as this sounds, it was a very long walk to the lobby. My stomach was in knots, my mind was racing and there was a huge lump in my throat. I found myself fighting tears. And nervous. I was meeting in person someone I met online . . . this was a first for me. Would I even recognize her? But turning the corner and entering the lobby, there she was, naturally curly, more-blonde-added hair watching a news channel on the television. She looked at me walking to her, looked back at the tv, had a double-take and just smiled and stood up.
Tina Cresap Bell was all of a sudden real, not just a picture on a screen or words on a page. And we hugged. Yes, a few tears, but not many, just mainly smiles and LOTS of words, verbal ones this time!
We just sat in the lobby and talked for about 10 minutes. Just talked. I listened to that beautiful, rich Chicago accent. L.O.V.E. And then it was off to breakfast.
This introduction was unique for me. It was like a “coming home” moment. Not to Chicago . . . I’ve never been. But a coming home to that familiar place that I’ve ached for. The physical presence of seeing the smiles, hearing the laughs, feeling the hug. It’s funny because no one else witnessed it. Jeff was working. Jason was in the building but in meetings. There wasn’t even anyone else in the lounge but a few of the hotel staff. No one to take pictures to record the memory in print. Just two moms, connected by a disease, who built a friendship long distance, through Facebook, finally able to sit face-to-face and just be friends.
There just are no words.
(stay tuned for more about the trip . . . one post was just too long!)