I don’t know how it happened, but we are actually in Milan safe and sound this morning. Well, I do know how it happened–by the grace of God and because Josh
is my hero.
You might have gathered by now that this post is not about the season premier of this year’s Amazing Race (which I will greatly miss watching each Sunday night in Pastor Wally’s basement with the young adults from Journey.) It is more about that fact that Josh and I are kind of living The Amazing Race right now.
We got on the train for Madrid yesterday four hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. There wasn’t even the slightest worry that we would be pressed for time, as we would arrive in Madrid almost two hours before the plane would leave for Milan.
Of course, God apparently had some plans to teach us about patience, perseverance and preparing for the worst. And maybe promptness . . .
There are two train stations in Madrid, and we apparently passed the station that was closest to Barajas airport and got off the train a good twenty-minute Metro ride down the line. When we tried to ride back, the train we were on stopped for the day, and we had to find yet another. We finally got on the last Metro we would need at about 6:00pm (our flight was scheduled for 6:45). On the Metro, I looked down at my boarding pass and saw the most haunting words I have ever seen in me life: “Gate closes at 6:15.”
I freaked out! We would land at the airport with a total of five minutes to get our Visas checked, make it through security, and get to the gate before it closed for good!
We arrived at the Visa check at exactly 6:15, and I was beginning the slow and painful process of convincing myself that everything would be okay in light of the missed flight. This is a difficult task for me, as I like to believe that things are the end of the world. Maybe the three of us (our friend Kristen was with us) could buy last-minute tickets on a later flight or a flight the next morning so that we wouldn’t lose the money for the return flight and hostel.
When I calmly explained our situation to the woman at the Ryanair help desk, she replied, “What are you talking about? This flight doesn’t leave for another 25 minutes.” Whatever “gate closes at 6:15” meant, she didn’t seem to think it was a problem. I didn’t have time to question her before Josh was darting back to the Visa check. I tried to tell him that it was no use–that the gate was closed. He wouldn’t have any of it.
“We’re going to try,” he kept saying, “We’re going to try.”
To my amazement they stamped our visas for us with nothing more than a stern shake of the head for being so late, but as we sprinted for our gate, we saw that the security line was absolutely packed. As we waited impatiently (and hopelessly, in my case), Kristen* suddenly ran up behind us shaking her head and saying “I can’t go.” I didn’t even think to be shocked or sad at the time because I was sure that we would be joining her in a moment.
Security involved emptying our pockets, removing our coats and shoes, and shoving all of this (including our carry-on bags, camera, and packed dinner) into those little plastic boxes and waiting for them to appear on the other side of the conveyor. At 6:35, Josh finally made it through security right behind me–only to be told that he would have to go through again because he was carrying a laptop.
I looked at him and said as maturely as I could muster, “Don’t bother. We’ll get another flight. Don’t worry about it.”
And that was the moment when he set his jaw in the most frustrated yet determined manner that I have ever seen in the course of our relationship, yanked the laptop out of his bookbag, and ran to the back of the security line to go through the ordeal again.
I couldn’t bear to stand there and do nothing while he scrambled for his life, so I raced in search of our gate (without stopping to put my shoes back on, I might add). I was amazed when I finally found it with the door to the jetway still open. The attendant looked at me sympathetically as I skidded to a stop in my stocking feet and desperately held out my boarding pass and passport. He told me to calm down and that I still had a couple minutes. I was stressed beyond belief and in the middle of an asthma attack and gasped, “Yes–yes, I know, but–my husband!” I left both of our passports at the ticket check and sprinted back to security.
Josh wasn’t there.
I stood in the middle of the concourse of the Madrid Barajas International Airport and yelled at the top of my lungs, “JOSH! JOSH THURSTON! JOSH! THURSTON!”
I almost cried when I saw him–at 6:42–appear at the other end of the concourse, bolt past me, and run with everything that he had to the gate where his passport was already waiting for him.
I huffed and puffed behind him. We ignored the gruff female security guard who kept scolding that we were too late, we ripped Josh’s ticket out of the attendant’s hand, and we blasted down the jetway into the arms of a very startled flight attendant who smiled and asked us to take our seats. I paid no attention to the chuckles of the sophisticated Spaniards and Italians ogling at my feet sans shoes as I made my way to a seat at the very back of the plane. We had done it.
Josh had done it. My amazing husband, who has never looked more like a hero in my eyes, kept calm, kept the faith, and kept running when I had all but given up hope. Thank you, God, for your provision, and thank you for this wonderful, hard-working, faithful man who has led me through times of stress in our life even when he had to drag me.
Thank you that he now gets a mini-honeymoon in Milan as a reward.
*Later, I would find out that Kristen had accidentally bought tickets for 6:00am that morning and hadn’t been able to come with us on the flight. She’s going to meet us here tomorrow, though 😀