Moments before this moment, I was one of the crowd milling around waiting. The automated arrivals doors opened, people flowed through. I kept waiting, kept scanning for the face I love. A tiny elderly woman pushing an enormous trolley of suitcases caught my eye. She struggled with the weight as she approached the arrivals doors. I was about to offer my help when a young woman ran up behind me and fell at the elderly woman’s feet, unabashedly weeping. They clutched each other, kissing each other’s faces, holding each other’s hands. Watching them, the outpouring of their relief and emotion to be reunited, I was assaulted by an ugly cry thinking of my mum on the other side of the world and the moment I get to see her again, every time I’m lucky enough to travel between my two homes. I glanced around me at the other people waiting: one man also watching had his hanky to his nose; a chauffeur was discreetly wiping his eyes; a woman was rocking a her baby on her hip and biting back her tears. As the elderly woman and her daughter began to walk away, I reached out my hand.
“That was such a beautiful thing to see, thank you. Your reunion made me cry,” I said, pointing out the obvious as my mascara ran down my face Courtney-Love-90s style.
“I’m so sorry to make you cry,” the young woman said sincerely, taking my hand and holding it in hers. “I just missed her so much.”
I shook my head at her apology, said no, not at all, blurted that Mum was in Oz, I understood the missing and hoped they had a beautiful time together. Her hand was strong and warm holding mine; she didn’t let go, even when adjusting her hijab. They both wished me a reunion with my mum soon and walked away, heads bent together, arms entwined.
I turned back to the arrivals gate, shaking as I watching more people pour through. Then I saw her, my love I’d come for. And as I ran at her, my knees jellied with gratitude; no matter what travel guidebooks say, an airport’s arrivals gate is one of the best places to be on Earth. To be freely with the people we love is the destination we all covet most.