Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The end of a chapter . . .

This post is long overdue! Time and life has taken over!! But here is the last of my posts that closes out the end of our China journey as we begin the rest of our journey known as "life."

Our last day in Guangzhou was spent quietly watching the clock tick away. We met for a group picture and had a little gathering with the families. I am so thankful for this wonderful group I was able to share the time with. And also for all their offers of help. From grabbing something I dropped, to helping with the stroller or my carry on, or even making me my lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, they were a fun and kind group of people that I look forward to keeping in touch with. In the late afternoon, our vans arrived to bring us to Hong Kong where Marlo and I spent our last night as the two of us. We were very lucky to join Mic and Carol's van on the three hour trip instead of taking one by myself. Not only did they feed me my PB & J that afternoon, Carol fed me dinner - a Snickers bar! In the hotel lobby that night we said goodbye to all the families as we were all going our separate ways in the morning.

I had been getting notifications from the airline that my flight from Hong Kong to Chicago was delayed by 4 hours. However, a couple that was taking the same flight with me was not receiving these notifications and walked over to the terminal to check the night before and were told that everything was on time. So by 8:30 Wednesday morning, Marlo and I, along with our cart of luggage made the quick 5 minute walk to the terminal to check in. The sight of a huge line of people was not what I was looking for, but that is exactly what I ran into. A flight canceled the day before was the reason for the mass amount of people. Our flight in fact was delayed by 4 hours, yet we took our spot in line to check in. We finally made it through and spent the next few hours discovering the Hong Kong airport. It is hands down the nicest aiport I've been in and time went by pretty quickly. Soon it was time to board and I was lucky enough to hit the jackpot and was placed in the bulkhead row with no other passengers. Marlo and I played on the floor, in our seats, had our "junk" spread out across the entire row and the 14 1/2 hours went very smoothly. I did have the cutest little Chinese "grandma" speak to me the majority of the flight in Chinese. I had no idea what she was saying, but I just smiled and nodded. I do know that she was definately telling me how to take care of Marlo. At one point she got out of her seat, took of Marlo's blanket, re-wrapped her and rubbed her arm and mine and gave me a thumbs up. She appeared to be traveling with her husband, daughter and granddaughter. It had started to get a little cool on the plane and I needed to get Marlo's sweater down from the overhead, so I asked a flight attendant to hold Marlo while I got it out. When I turned around, the little grandma had taken Marlo right out of flight attendants arms and was holding her. She and her husband, along with Marlo, had the biggest smiles on their faces. They talked, played, clapped hands and when she saw the sweater in my hand she grabbed it while her husband helped her put it on Marlo. Clearly, she had been telling me for hours to get her a sweater!

We landed in Chicago and had a long layover. We were able to clean up, change clothes and get something to eat just in time for another flight notification that my flight to Duluth was delayed by 30 minutes. I thought 30 minutes isn't so bad, but then another 45 minute delay led straight into a nasty thunderstorm which led straight into my flight home being canceled shortly after midnight or so. I had a choice to make at this point. I could either lose it and bust out crying, or I could just hang on until the morning and make the best of it. Somehow I found the strength to get through talking to John with a minimal amount of tears and made my way to the gate I would be flying out of early that morning. Marlo could not have handled it any better and we met a few new friends to pass the time with. This truly is how she was waiting. Smiles and all!

As it was, I hadn't showered for 2 days, only cleaned up in a family restroom (which I totally Clorox wiped down before doing so) and to say I was a hot mess by the time I got off the plane in Duluth is a total understatment. I held everything in for so long and as soon as I saw John, I knew I didn't have to be an "adult" anymore and I crumbled. I couldn't wait to see all of them and my tears started streaming as I made my way into the terminal. Those arms never felt so good! Although they were all ready to hold Marlo, I was in heaven holding them. Marlo was a trooper - hungry and all, but met her daddy, brothers and sister with open arms.

We haven't wasted any time and have jumped into Benson life literally the day after we got home. Marlo is doing great. She is adjusting well. The kids adore her as much as she adores them. We couldn't imagine life without her here. And she is a perfect fit for daddy's arms.

She has grown, tried some new foods, is getting a schedule down pretty good, gotten a couple shots and is making strides like crazy! She completes the Benson home. We adore her and love seeing her change each and every day. We want to thank everyone who followed along, supported us, sent us kind thoughts and loving words. Thank you all for every little thing you have said or done!

Below is a video that Marlo's Uncle Tom has put together. We absolutely love it - and I still cry everytime I watch it. It is a gift she will have forever and we can't thank him enough!