Each year, as part of my job, I coordinate Bristow Academy's presence at Heli Expo. The show is a great opportunity to meet new aviation friends and catch up with old ones. Undoubtably my favorite part is seeing graduates who the first time I met them were considering starting flight training and are now off flying their dream jobs.
This year the show was held in Vegas from March 5-7. After flying to Houston to drop Isaiah off with my parents we then flew to Vegas, arriving a couple days in advance to set everything up.
I don't gamble or smoke and only drink a glass of wine or two on special occasions. Although these three vices seem to be the main sources of entertainment in Vegas, I was still excited to go and experience a new city.
Our trip started well and we caught glimpses of the Grand Canyon from our airplane window. After collecting our bags we headed out to the shuttle stop and waited with a group for a ride to our hotel. I've taken many shared shuttles and have always felt comfortable. Even last year when our driver got hopelessly lost and we bumped our way through an alley of potholes the entire experience was inconvenient, not uncomfortable. Vegas however, is not for the naive.
As it turned out the loud drunk guy from the plane shared our bus and about half way through the journey started asking where he could buy weed. The young Australian teen sitting next to him said he was looking for weed to and so they exchanged phone numbers promising to call each other so they could "get their heads right". I was thankful to arrive at our hotel and escape the whole uncomfortable situation.
The Expo went wonderfully and we even managed to take in the show. Le Reve was extraordinary and we were blown away by the strength, skill, and grace of the cast.
By the third day I missed my little Isaiah much more than I expected. When we called to speak with him on the phone he started screaming "Mommy mommy mommy!" and wailing loudly. We told Isaiah we love him, would see him soon, and quickly hung up. It was too late though, my heart had already shattered into a million pieces. Mom called back later and said Isaiah had calmed down very quickly and happily gone back to exploring the backyard. Calmed down or not, all I wanted was to board the next plane and hold my little boy.
I hadn't expected to miss Isaiah so much. I don't know if I have it in me to leave him again and am thankful that I don't have any more work commitments that would require me to. This whole mommy thing is new to me and I am surprised all the time with the changes that quietly make a home in my heart. Sometimes, like this time, I'm not aware of those changes until they overtake me. It's as if I have little strings tied to my heart. I'm not sure how many there are and only discover one when it is individually pulled.
The highlight of the trip was having dinner with the Helimission folks also exhibiting at the Expo. Both Ben and I were delighted to meet Brian, a pilot who had served with Helimission for fourteen years. Aware that working on the field opens you up to all kinds of difficulties we asked how we could best guard our hearts and relationships. Brian spoke of keeping your family tight and loyalty to one another. He spoke about protecting each other spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Thinking back on our conversation I am reminded of my wedding vows. My solemn vow to be Ben's faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. Such few and simple words. Words spoken in love, but also spoken well before any real heartache found us.
In everything I think of God, the loving Father who couldn't bare to be apart from His children and so made a way for redemption. And of Jesus, the ever faithful lover of my soul. I think King David sang it best in his psalm:
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.