Sunday, January 1, 2023

Our First Night in Italy and a Lost Bag

 “You’re feeling hot,” Mike said. We’d been waiting at the baggage carousel so long that we missed our train to Zurich. 

“I think they lost my bag,” I said. 

“We should probably stay the night in Milan,” Mike whispered before glancing back at our four kids. “Do you think they’ll be sad if we don’t get to see Switzerland and Germany?”

I blinked, unsure. And I felt like such an idiot. I’d brought so much medication in my carryon that the security officers in France did a full pat-down. She even felt UNDER my bra—they’re really thorough in France. But…I’d left my emergency medicine in my main bag—the one they lost. Without those steroids and antibiotics, I could end up hospitalized in a foreign country. And this fever didn’t look good.

“I’m sorry about this. I should’ve brought all the medicine on me. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“It’s okay,” Mike said, putting his hand on my shoulder. “You need your clothes and everything too. It’ll be okay.”

We decided I’d roll on over to the baggage claim area—thank God for my wheelchair—while Mike fed the kids and told them about my lost bag and our new itinerary.

The missing bag line for Air France stretched for eternity, and I grew hotter by the second; apparently flying over the ocean isn’t the easiest when you’re fighting cancer. I’d make a TERRIBLE astronaut!

Finally, I got closer to the front, and I listened as people yelled at the customer service representative. “I have my fanciest clothes and my best swimsuit in that bag. And you lost it?” 

I know it’s wrong, but although I felt for the woman, I didn’t understand why she yelled at the poor representative. AND, selfishly, I got excited that I could understand what she said in Italian!!! (I know that’s not… angelic…being happy about linguistics when someone else is upset, but understanding even a little bit of Italian IS awesome.)

I started taking Pimsleur Italian in 2020 and got serious about it after my diagnosis. I ALWAYS wanted to learn Italian, but I put it off before I got sick. I put so many things off. In 2020, I figured doctors gave me two years to live; I better learn Italian fast. Mike and I did so much with it that we even became affiliates through the learning app where we can help other people learn languages (more about that here: ), and apparently watching movies in Italian with English subtitles helped too.

Anyway, the person in front of me cried to the representative because Air France lost their ski equipment, and they’d miss their entire Christmas holiday with their family. I couldn’t imagine how devastating.

“Mom, are you okay?” Sky asked and I nodded. Sometimes when everyone else is busy, Sky remembers to check on me. She’s grown into such a caring, compassionate woman, and it’s been surreal watching her inner growth the last several months as she’s experienced more of the world.

The customer service rep called us over at that moment, so Sky wheeled me to the front desk. The depleted representative looked beyond exhausted. I studied his green eyes, and instead of complaining about my bag, I used my Italian to ask him how he was doing. He seemed genuinely surprised. And despite my fever and pain, I mustered up the brightest, biggest smile because this exhausted man was having an AWFUL day.

“Bene.” Good. “You-a have-a lost bag?” he asked. “I speak-a English. If that’s-a easier for you-a.”

“You’re awesome,” I nearly squealed. “English is great!”

“You have-a your luggage number?” 

I dug through my fanny pack, and he proceeded to go above and beyond.

“We can get it on the next flight from France. It will be here in a few hours. Does-a that work-a for you?”

“Perfetto!” I beamed.

The machine in front of him fritzed. It’s different from the electronics we have in America. He immediately opened it toward me, like the steampunk maw of a crocodile, pushed a few wires back in place and spun a couple of gears. Then he shut it.

“Wow!” Sky and I said, staring at the machine and then each other.

“You like-a?” He laughed so hard that it echoed around the room. “I-a do it again?”

Before we could leave, the man asked, “Ma’am? Why-a … Why are you two-a so happy? We lost your bag. Everyone one else … “ He motioned to people in the room. “Are … how do you say … pazzo?”

“How can we be upset?! We’re in Italy! We’re actually in Italy,” and then I giggled, “and we get to meet people like you!”

He blushed and waved at us before placing his hand on his heart. “You two-a were the best part of my week-a. Grazie.”

So we caught the shuttle and got a room nearby where Mike brought Ruby and Sky out for a beer (since people can drink at 18 in Italy). Trey, Indy, and I immediately fell asleep, so grateful friends gave us this trip as a gift and just hoping my fever would abate. 

I’ll never forget that sweet man in customer service or our first night actually being in Italy. Despite a lost bag and a fever, it was the most wonderful night. I just couldn’t believe one of my biggest dreams had come true!

Here are some pictures of us at the airport and the train station. Trey was so cute with that ukulele; he brought it everywhere.

I’ll post more tomorrow about our adventures in Italy. All of it seems so surreal.

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