Kelly let us know that we could phone him between 18.30 & 20.00 on a different number seeing as we wanted to say our last goodbyes. But then we were able to find out that we could possibly make it to the airport in time to say goodbye between landing at OR Tambo & boarding his next flight to New York.
18.30, my sister and I got into the car ready to get to the airport as fast as the law made possible to drive on the highway. Time was ticking and I was talking to Kelly as he landed….. Chantelle was basically flying on the highway. Our hearts were racing as every second ticked by and every kilometer passed. We kept watching how much time we had. Each and every second passing, my little sister & I kept on praying & hoping God would just delay his plane departure time so that we could have a few moments to say goodbye to him or maybe even have the chance of having supper with him. As we prayed, in the distance we saw the lightning start up…looking at each other – smiling, full of hope, my sister put her foot down full on the pedal increasing speed. Suddenly she had turned into a race car driver (a very responsible one, just in case my parents read this)….I’ve never seen her so desperate to get to an airport. She could have been a paramedic at that moment.
I spoke to Kelly over the phone as he had just gotten off the plane and set his feet in OR Tambo’s airport….. He asked in a surprised voice – “Are you here?” I said no, but that we were almost there and we’re hoping to make it in time. He then said goodbye trying to figure out when he had to board the plane and assured us that he would let us know how much time we had left to get there.
He let us know that he had passed through some sort of gates, but he wasn’t very specific….. I let him know we were 10 minutes away from stopping at the airport. Those were probably the slowest 10 minutes ever as they felt like a movie being played in slow motion. Still hopeful, my sister tried to encourage him to take his time and wait by telling me to tell him, “Get to the back of the queue, since when is it cool to be the first in line to board the plane??”
We stopped at the airport, parked the car on the lowest level, it was 19.15….every escalator going upward, moved too slow, we basically ran like frantic idiots up all of them to where he would be checking in & then going through security gates & checks…. we couldn’t see him anywhere. My sister decided it’s her turn to phone him… I could hear the ringing of the phone and then his answer. The first time we phoned he was surprised to hear we were on our way. Now my sister had to tell him we were there ready to say goodbye…. We walked on as he picked up… He’d checked in and they had to start boarding but he was just buying something to drink….. He was already beyond the departure gates soon to go through the security checks….he was a few meters away from us behind a piece of glass…you could hear him getting all choked up over the phone as he realized we had come to say goodbye and now he couldn’t even enjoy a hug and we had literally missed each other by 5 minutes…. On both sides of the phone we were choking up, and you could hear and feel the disappointment as my sister gave him a little speech and lecture.
We went to the Spur at the airport while we waited for his flight to depart, had supper, took pictures and sent them to him as well as a few other messages…. We ate in a lot more silence than usual, and you could see on by our faces, how the scenes played over and over in our heads that we had missed Kelly by 5 minutes. The last of his words rung throughout
the meal as well as the trip home and still now…. Choked up words by Kelly who tried sounding brave, but you could feel his sadness, disappointment & how badly all he needed was a hug. You could hear him choking up & trying to say a certain few words before crying, which suddenly mean a whole lot more now….. “I’m gona miss you. I love you lots…bye….”
Those are the ones we cherish most & love hearing more than anything in the world.
*The message my sister Chantelle sent to Kelly about the whole thing while we were at spur, she was feeling a little disppointed: “sooo me and michi raced to the airport to see you one last time, ran up the escalators but still missed you by 5minutes! hope the weather isnt causing too much turbulence and that you arrive safely in America! remember the skype session as soon as you’re settled in! love u brother! miss you too much already!!”