Wednesday marked the 11th anniversary of the greatest day of my life; the day I became your momma. I spent that day the only way I could this year, by celebrating the life of another beautiful angel, another child who made the dreams of some other people that you'll probably never know come true, a child that was taken from them far too early. I want to tell you about that day, about how those parents reminded me of things I can so easily forget, how your kind and generous nature made it possible for me to be with my friend because you knew she needed me more than you did that day. But I'm not going to tell you that yet, for two reasons. One: It's not my story to tell. They will tell it as they are able. Two: You really really need to know one thing more.
Donald Sutherland hates you and wants you to be miserable.
Auntie Tanis and I made it to the airport today 3 hours ahead of schedule, because LA traffic frightens us Canadians and we overcompensate like motherfuckers. We poked around the internet, drank more coffee than is legal in seven states, sent Uncle Avitable several questionable text messages and then headed through security an hour before our planes we departing.
We stood in the queue waiting to go through security, taking our shoes off, getting our 3 ounce containers into their approprite baggies, when Auntie Tanis recognized the tall shaggy dude right in front of us in line. Yep, Donald Sutherland. He had that awesome Nick Nolte arrest hair-do, a really old coat on, and a boner the size of Texas for Tanis. Because she's awesome like that. They went through their line, I went through mine. I was done first and waiting for her to come through, and after she did we realize that either Donny was packin' heat or he really shouldn't wear his good belt buckle to the airport, because the poor dude was getting the full-on security VIP package.
We stood for a while, debating whether or not to ask him for a photo. He seemed pretty delayed, so we ran to the washroom to try and drop 10 pounds for the picturetinkle. We bothwent in, we bothcame out, and we both stopped 2 feet from the exit of the washroom and waited for our Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend to come heading our way.
This is where I should tell you that the parts of me that lack in idiot make up for it with klutz.
I'd been keeping my passport and boarding pass in my back pocket, and when I went tinkle, I actually remembered to take them out of my pocket and set them on top of my suitcase so I wouldn't flush them. And yes, I totally would have flushed them. I got done, ran out, and waited with Auntie Tanis. Two whole minutes later I realized my passport was no longer on my suitcase. It wasn't back in my pocket. It wasn't shoved into the front pockets of my bags. It was gone.
I ran back into the washroom and the person who'd followed me in was gone, replaced by a pair of those old-lady club shoes in teal. TEAL. I asked the shoes from under the stall if they'd seen a passport. Right then, someone came into the washroom calling out for Margine. The shoes answered her call. Someone told Margine her son was looking for her and she replied MY FEET. BIRDS. FRENCH FRIES.
Margine came out of the stall, sporting a very fashionable in Palm Springs only ensemble that totally matched her shoes. And she had no bag, nothing in her hands and, most importantly, no passport. I asked again if she'd seen a passport and she said I NEED A BANDAID. WHERE'S MY SON? MY FEET.
I called security. They called maintenance. They called the gate. They called the police. They called Air Canada. They called me out of the terminal.
Funny thing, losing your passport in a crowded airport. Funnier still, trying to enter a country you weren't born in without a passport. And by funnier, of course, I mean impossible. We searched everywhere. High and low, near and far. I was there for a long time goin' through all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things, and I was just havin' a tough time there, and they was inspectin', injectin', every single part of me, and they was leavin' no part untouched. *ahem* After a few hours they told me the passport was less "lost" and considerably more "stolen" and that I had to go to the Federal Building and apply for a new one.
Auntie Tanis has this term she likes to throw around sometimes. It's called "The Ugly Cry." Momma knows what that means now. I cried like I was smack dab in the middle of a country western song. I cried like the end was extremely fucking nigh. I cried like the cure was in it. I cried like I had to call your daddy and tell him what I'd done. The TSA guy hugged me and told me to be strong. And no, I didn't just cry because he was hot. Shut up. I cried to your daddy, I cried to the Air Canada dude who I swore got shot driving Locke around a few weeks ago, I cried to Auntie Tanis, I cried to the lady walking down the concourse and she looked at me like I had the plague. She's not my best friend.
And when the crying was done, and Uncle Avitable called me to offer to kick a nun in the nuts just to cheer me up, I went to get a new passport. At 1 in the afternoon. Across town. In LA traffic. All by myself.
I got to the front door of the Federal Building and a scrawny little dude who's future was, based on his shades, quite bright indeed, told me I had to make an appointment to go up. I started crying. He said he'd do it for me if I gave him my phone. I gave him my phone and it turns out you can't call the LA passport agency from a Canadian phone. So he called them for me, on speaker phone, on his. And I thought he was an angel. And then the automated voice asked for my number and then I thought he was more devilish than I'd given him credit for earlier. I made my appointment, took the two worst pictures in the history of photography, tried very hard to explain to a gov't official why I had only an Arizona driver's license, a Canadian work permit and a Social Insurance card. After a few sideways glances and a metric shitton of money, I had a new passport a'brewing. Which will be ready at 9 am on Thursday. I left the building, found the scrawny dude and congratulated him on officially having the most creative pick up line in the world. And then I cried.
I realized I had no idea where I was and I cried. I realized I was stuck for an entire day and night in a country I don't actually live in overnight and I cried. I realized I'd already checked out of the hotel and I cried. I caught a glimpse of myself in a window and I died.
I called Uncle BusyDad.
And tonight, when I was supposed to be home kissing your freshly-elevened face and giving you exotic gifts from a strange land they call California, I was singing happy birthday to Fury. When I was supposed to be making you get to bed because Lost was coming on you need your sleep, I was trying to convince Modern Mom's son that I am, in fact, NOT a Mr anything. I was telling their Fury stories about the fish your godmother and I mutated once (sorry about that, D'Wife and BD, really. It seemed like a good idea at the time). When I am supposed to be slipping a fiver under your pillow that I know dadThe Tooth Fairy forgot to do all the time I've been gone (I know this because I forgot for the 5 days before I left. I told you, I'm a shitty mom) I will be sleeping in BusyDad and D'Wife's office.
This is not the best part of the story.
Before dinner, after I'd already blown your inheritance on government ID, daddy called to tell me that someone named Pat from Minneapolis had called the house for me and I was to call her back immediately. This is what she said, as close as I can remember:
Hi! Pat's not here right now, but I do have your passport.
Huh? I'm in Minneapolis. Why, were are you?
How the hell did your passport get from LA to Minneapolis?
Well, Christ, you can't fly without it. I don't know what to do. How do I get this to you? OH GOD.
Oh, you have a new one? ALREADY? Good, I'll have Pat call you.
What Pat said to The Donor was this:
Hi, I have Shannon (i'mnotevertellingyou)'s passport here in Minneapolis. Some psychotic old woman came off the plane from LA with it.
The crazy old woman in the teal shoes STOLE MY PASSPORT and, I can only guess, shoved it in her bra or, worse, her grannie panties to hide it when she passed me in the bathroom. And you know why she was able to steal my passport?
Because Donald Sutherland had to go look like the Uni-Bomber and naturally I had to have a picture with him and Auntie Tanis. Because he hates you and wants you to be miserable without your mother on your birthday.
But I? I love you so much. So much more than you'll ever know. Enough to wear the same smelly clothes three days in a row and to take a cab on the 405 at rush hour. Good luck finding a girl to top that.