Monday, June 02, 2008

One Hell of a Week

With a few splashes of heaven now and again.

Later today I'll post a much more in depth essay on our trip to my brother's wedding at the Majestic Colonial resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which I wrote Saturday from the balcony off the back of our room. Right now, however, I just want to give a quick overview of what our week looked like:

Monday: As you know, we lost the baby on Monday. We got up early Monday morning, to start packing for our trip (we were supposed to head out early Tuesday morning). There were some signs of trouble, so we rushed Sami to the ER at 7 am. We were still hopeful, and honestly would not have bothered getting it checked out if we weren't about to leave the country. But, for some piece of mind, we went to the hospital. You, of course, know what happened from there.

Roughly five hours into our stay in the Er we heard the dreaded words, "We couldn't find a fetal heartbeat."

All told, Adam spent about six hours waiting in the hospital, and only really got upset once - right after we told him that the baby had died. He spent most of the day entertaining the doctors, nurses, and various other personnel.

I spent a bit more time, taking only a short break to take Adam out for lunch, and then hand him off to my mother, who dropped everything and drove up from Lexington to help us out as soon as she got the news.

Poor Sami ended up spending the better part of twelve hours in the hospital, most of the time with the sickening realization that not only had she lost the child she was carrying in her, but that this tragedy would most likely be compounded with another one: we were probably going to miss my brother's wedding. And I was supposed to be the best man.

But her surgery went as well as it could have possibly gone, and her doctor - who had been deadset against us flying before the operation said afterwards that if we could arrange to leave a little bit later, the should be, assuming no more complications, no medical reason why we'd have to cancel our trip.

That night we learned that US Air is not above extorting grieving families. But my father graciously paid their ridiculous ticket transfer fee ($500 per person) for the three of us (Sami, Adam, and me) to fly out Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

Tuesday: We were supposed to fly out on Tuesday. Instead we spent the day doing all the things we'd planned to do on Monday to prepare for our flight. I spent most of the day mindlessly pacing the house, or whichever store we happened to be in, buying whatever it was we'd forgotten earlier that we'd absolutely need on our trip. The day is a blur. I now remember almost none of it.

The one small victory of the day was that, while in Borders, I discovered that my all-time favorite Shakespeare film adaptation, Kenneth Branagh's interpretation of Hamlet - an artistic, ambitious commercial flop - is finally out on DVD. (Evidently it came out last year, but I didn't notice. Some fan I am!) Good consumer that I am, I bought it.

Wednesday: We got up at 3 am (OK, I reset the alarm to 3:15 to steal a few more precious moments of shut eye) to drive to Cincinnati to catch our 7 am flight to Charlotte, where we would then have a brief layover before catching our connection to Punta Cana. US Air has one flight daily to Punta Cana, the 11:45 from Charlotte.

We got to the Cincinnati International Airport (which is actually in northern Kentucky) just after 5 am. There Sami got to have a much needed laugh at my expense when I foolishly tried to lug all of our luggage up a flight of stairs (I misread the sign on the escalator, somehow thinking in my sleep-deprived delirium that we weren't allowed to put bags with wheels on it) and broke the handle off one of our bags. After she got over my ruining her luggage on its first EVER trip she happily told this story to my whole family, another bit of evidence confirming what anyone who knows me - especially family - already knows: I am a lovable fool. There's a reason I like the story of Thales and the well so much.

We breezed through security, arriving at our gate, Gate 7, with plenty of time to spare. There we sat down, ate a bagel or two, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

When we hadn't boarded by 7:30, we knew something was up. It was then announced that there had been a minor mechanical problem. The problem had been fixed by another airline's mechanic, and we would wait just a little bit longer for US Air's mechanic to show up and certify the job. It shouldn't take much longer, thank you for your patience, blah, blah, blah.

Then we waited some more.

More such announcements followed, but in the end our flight didn't take off until after our connection from Charlotte. All told, we waited at our gate, then at the ticket desk, then at our gate again, etc. for almost seven hours. Of course, since our plane didn't leave Cincinnati until after our connection left Charlotte, we missed our flight to Punta Cana. After going back and forth with US Air on the ground both in Cincinnati and then later in Charlotte, we ended up with a hotel voucher for the Quality Inn, and a food voucher that would buy us each one meal in the airport.

Sami, beside herself with grief and rage, wanted to say something like:

When we missed our flight because of a medical emergency, you charged us $1500; now that you've missed a flight, too, what do we get to charge you?

She would, I think, have been right to say that, but even in her emotional state she comported herself with dignity. I couldn't have been more proud of her. Of course, I would have been just as proud if she'd told off everyone we encountered, given all the shit we'd been through at that point. But the people on the ground in the airport hadn't extorted us, and it probably wasn't their fault that the plane broke, either. But I'll tell you this: we'll never fly US Air again, even if they do refund the ransom money my father paid them to allow us to attend my brother's wedding.

The Quality Inn was nice, but it wasn't exactly Punta Cana.

Thursday: After more hassling at the hands of the TSA, things were finally looking up. We touched down in Punta Cana Thursday afternoon, and arrived at our resort by roughly 5 pm. While our room wasn't ready for us (there was evidently some confusion when we didn't show up as expected, and then finally arrived two days late), causing us to yet again wait - we're being taught patience, and I suppose I could use the lesson - we were finally done with airports and hospitals.

That night, though we'd missed the rehearsal scheduled for that afternoon, we made it to the rehearsal dinner. My brother thoughtfully arranged for a vegetarian meal for us - the resort is not used to feeding non-carnivores, and has no vegetarian options on the dinner menu at any of its seven restaurants.

Friday: Great day at the pool, the beach, and everywhere else.

My youngest brother got married Friday night. I was the best man. I'm so proud that even now, as I process this complex assortment of joy and grief, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I'll probably do both.

Saturday: Last full day at Punta Cana. I wrote an essay from my room that I'll share here later today. It will become part of a larger paper.

Sunday: The trip home. Not as complicated as the trip out. We flew from Punta Cana to Philadelphia, then from Philadelphia to Cincinnati. Picked up our car from long term parking, and drove from Cincy back home. We arrived in Louisville a little after 1 am, exhausted, but not defeated.

We made it.


Anonymous said...

Boy, what a rollercoaster. We were wondering when you guys might make it back to town. I hope that I can call you later just to check in, but I'll make it much later due to your late arrival.

Best wishes to you, Sami, and Adam.

Heather said...

That is outrageous that US Air charged you the transfer fee even after you told them the reason for your delay. Aren't they supposed to make exceptions for medical emergencies?

Much love to both of you, and please call me, Chris. *hugs*

Amy said...

I'm glad you're home safe. I, too, am shocked by the way the airlines treated all y'all. My thoughts and prayers are still with you.


Garpu said...

Something needs to be done about the state of air travel in this country. It's horrible, and since people don't have another option, it only keeps getting worse.