We drove to the cold, grey Toronto airport, with the wind and rain blowing around us. I waved at Greg, and secretly hoped that I wouldn't have to call him back because something had gone horribly wrong. I mean what could go wrong? I was traveling with an e-mail print out instead of real documentation for a child that isn't mine, a child that isn't US or Canadian. Inside, we each took turns scanning our passports. Elaine... boarding passes, yea, Ciaran, Aodhan, Val, boarding passes yea! Steve - sorry ... no boarding pass for you ... OMFG his name is spelled wrong on his ticket... GAA Hong not Jong GAAAAA!!!

Stand in line...desk...Hong not Jong...wait. Well the lady was wonderful. (This will be a trend over the next few days.) Time to reel back in some of that good karma I have been trying to build up. She changed it. Well, actually, that’s not true, she added a note to the file, that explained the inconsistency. She let us go.

Next... the hard part... US customs...

Well, the guy was reamed me out for not having proper documents for my own children and he hadn’t even got to the one that wasn’t mine yet. He was relieved that the lady traveling with us was the absent parent’s mother. She smiles real nice too which doesn’t hurt:-) He grilled Steve about whether or not his parents know about his travels. And then, miraculously, he stamped our passports and let us go. Ok, I mean he stamped most of our documents, we had to go back to get our boarding passes stamped...

We had a lovely night at the Airport Hampton Inn in Miami. Our supper at Pollo Tropical of pollo con arroz y frijoles was delicious. We went for a swim in the evening and had a nice breakfast at their breakfast buffet.

The shuttle for the port arrived at noon and was quite a fun ride through the city. We grabbed our carry-ons and flew through the terminal - there was almost no-one there! They looked at our documentation and, well, let’s just say that the world as we knew it ceased to exist. Well, even though the US border customs agents had allowed me to pass, the ship wouldn’t. We would have to leave the terminal, go down to some place called the Seaman’s centre, make long distance calls to Korea to wake his parents up at 3am, and get them somehow to fax or e-mail some documentation from Korea to verify that Steve was allowed to travel. How some faxed document would be different from some document that I had I don’t know, but apparently, it would.

So there we were at the NCL “special help desk” feeing oh so “special” damn all I wanted right at that point was to be a fish in a school, a very un-special person, when of course, because what the hell else could go wrong, Val got the call. Bun had taken a bad turn for the worse, she was back in the hospital. Val had to leave, she had to get a flight back to Canada now. I realized that I may have to leave too, because the possibility of getting something from some non-speaking Korean woman at 3am was looking mighty slim. I wanted to be able to say something, to help her, to go with her, I knew that there was about a 75% chance that in a couple of hours we would be stranded.

I couldn’t let NCL know she was going because we need two adults for the two rooms.

She left. I watched her walk away and my entire body was wracked with invisible sobs - my face was blank as I watched the sea of faces swimming before me a the help desk. I wanted to help her, I felt like I was abandoning her, I should fly home too, the kids ... the cruise ... a funeral ... need documents ... someone turned on a mixmaster at my feet and my body began to be pulled downward into the blades.

I thought of getting Greg to whip up some documents and send them, but in the end, after 3 hours at the Seamen’s centre, and faxes that wouldn’t go through and faxes that wouldn’t come through, and cats outside for Aodhan to pet, and two dollars left in my pouch, and my card not working in the ATM, Steve was able to get his mom to hold up a piece of ID and e-mail the photo of it to NCL and they ... they ... let us go. We grabbed our cards and hightailed it on to the ship.

I wanted to first check if they had on-board counseling. I felt awful letting Val go alone, I felt awful staying, but the kids would have been devastated and ... the mixmaster blades were up to my chest now, I could feel them cut against the bottom of my heart. I laughed gaily as we grabbed our lifejackets and squeezed like sardines into our lifeboat drill. I smiled and joked as we signed the kids into the kids programs. I taught the boys some manners and explained some table etiquette as we ate our lunch. My heart was pushed up into my throat. Why was I feeling like this, why were my emotions so raw, I should have left with Val. I should have supported her.

They came for me in the dining room. “Are you Elaine Neely?” Yes, can you please go to the concierge right away... do you know where Valerie Neely is, is she on board, let you call your husband to see if he knows, family emergency, oh that’s too bad, but we’re ok. I wanted to talk for an hour, but they were staring at me from the desk, and I knew I couldn’t talk so long.

I met a couple that were nice and walked around with them for a while. I had to talk to someone. But I’m sure, despite my levity that I was depressing and I left to check on the boys.

It’s 5:30 am. Aodhan slept in my room last night. I suggested it because the other two were fast asleep and he was still wanting to stay up and draw and watch t.v., but really, I just needed the company.

The more I travel without Greg, the more I want Greg to be beside me, with me. I am independent and capable, but I want to be dependent and incapable so that he will take care of me. I want him to be here taking care of me, but I know he has to be at home. He has to pick his mom up at the airport at 7:24 pm.

Today will be bright and sunny and a fantastic beach day.