In less than thirty minutes, our plane will touch down in Hawaii. Not only have we never experienced the vacation-paradise-beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, we’ve also never met the man who’s picking us up at the airport.
“Are you nervous?” inquires my husband.
I shrug. “A little.” I am but I’m not. I’m kind of numb. Kind of going through the motions in a fog.
When he asks again five minutes later, I frown. “Would you stop? Are YOU nervous?”
“Yeah, a little,” he admits.
Last night was short, and today has been long. I think fatigue is contributing to my lack of emotion. And I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.
There’s no playbook for this kind of thing. Meeting the man who both of you discovered just seven months ago is your biological father.
I walk off the plane into semi-darkness on shaky legs. Just because I’ve been sitting for so long, right? It’s warm and breezy and humid. My hair that already looks bad blows in my face. I glance back at my husband to find him juggling his carry-on bag while recording my descent from the plane with his phone. Are you kidding me??
He shakes his head at my obvious disapproval and motions for me to get/keep going.
The airport resembles the open-air, outdoorsy setting you’d expect to find on the beach. People mill about in a much less frenzied manner than at any of the other airports we’d traveled through today. Fewer signs to direct unfamiliar, numb-minded passengers where to go. But I locate a bathroom and spend two minutes in front of a mirror trying to repair the damage of being up for twenty hours and on a plane for twelve plus hours.
And while my husband visits the facilities, I trade my socks and good-for-walking-long-distances tennis shoes that look dreadful with my outfit for a pair of comfy-but-less-supportive sandals that “go with” my now wrinkled attire. Because first impressions matter, right? Not that I have reason to believe this kind of thing is important to my newly-discovered family, but it makes me feel better.
I draw in several deep breaths, and we resume our search for baggage claim and our driver. My birthfather.
We spot each other from a distance. He smiles and points my direction. He’s tall and looks younger than his 75 years. The moment I’ve envisioned for months is just seconds away. It seemed the long-awaited reunion would never get here, but now I’m grateful for the months spent getting to know each other via dozens of email messages. A wise move as now we’re not complete strangers.
Those first moments are warm and fun, full of smiles, happy greetings, and a big hug. The very first words we exchange are not overwhelmingly memorable, but his expression and the sincerity of the welcome are undeniable. It’s comfortable, not awkward. And no tears. I didn’t think I’d cry. But who knew? There’s no playbook, remember? And no prior experiences to draw from for either of us.
We move on to the business at hand—retrieving the luggage that thankfully did not get lost despite the last-minute rerouting of our trip due to mechanical issues. We hustle it to the car, and soon we’re cruising down the highway in the deep darkness typical of Big Island nights. My numbed emotions have recovered a little, I guess, but surreal doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of sitting next to this man I should have known all my life.
I glance toward him as we exchange small talk. The resemblance I’d noticed in pictures is a bit stronger in person. Not as striking as the resemblance with my bio mom but still noticeable. My entire life, I never looked like anyone, and now I look like both sides of my biological family. And that’s awesome.
My half-sister and her husband who also live in Hawaii will meet us at the hotel in a half-hour or so. I’m less nervous about this meeting but very excited to connect with her, the sister I never knew I had. Neither of us had a sister growing up. Three brothers for each of us but no sister. Until now.
Our dual-purpose vacation is off to a promising start. Oh, did I forget to mention? In addition to the family reunion, we’re also celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary with ten days in beautiful, sunny Hawaii, 4363 miles from home.
Stay tuned for more about this incredible adventure as well as another sibling connection that came about in the days leading up to Hawaii.
If you’re just tuning into my adoption search/reunion story, catch the beginning of the story here.
Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life. Check out her “Waiting Matters . . . Because YOU Matter” blog series where she promotes the choice of saving sex for marriage. Comment here OR email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author. She’d love to hear from you!