Growing up my family traveled often. With relatives in nearly every corner of the United States, vacation meant Christmas in Boston or Easter in Florida, beach trips to Northern Michigan or visits to the Chicago suburbs. Travel was a means of being together - with our immediate family and with cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Our crazy schedules of little league games and swim practices, business trips and PTA meetings were put on pause. For these trips, these moments, we occupied the same space. As the plane took off, we would clasp hands. A prayer for a safe flight, a moment to acknowledge how thankful we were. The plane would steady, reach cruising altitude and we would let go. We'd return to our books or puzzles, then later iPods and e-readers, but still we were together.
Now our reasons for travel aren't quite so simple. And we find ourselves across states, countries, even continents. Just this morning when I woke up in Sweden, my brother was in Mexico, my dad in New Zealand and my mom in the Netherlands en route to Tanzania. Needless to say, it's harder to have that time together. It's nearly impossible to find ourselves in the same city, let alone on the same flight. And yet, I can always count on an email or a text: "Safe travels! Text when you land." It may not be a squeeze of a hand mid-take off, but it's something. A prayer for a safe flight, a moment to acknowledge how thankful we are. And that is everything.