They sat in their layers of winter clothing and waited. It would cost too much to add more carry ons, and they would need the snowpants and heavy coats in the Alaskan winter so they braved the stuffy heat of the Dayton Ohio International Airport like sweaty marshmallow people. Their son whined a bit but his excitement in riding his first plane shook any annoyances out of his system quickly. They'd shed their quilted skins once they boarded, the flights were long, they'd stuff the layers under their seats. Then before they had to fasten their seatbelts again they'd either layer them back on or sausage roll them under their arms, to dash to the next flight. They were almost out of extra money and extra luggage was starting to cost hundreds of dollars in fees.
Their respective parents waited with them, a united front of support and sadness. They looked older and smaller than Theresa remembered, dwarfed by the tall ceilings of the waiting area. She knew she'd see Ben's parents soon. They'd scheduled a cruise with their neighborhood association even before Theresa and Ben had announced their departure from the contiguous United States. Her parents she wasn't sure when she'd see after today. Her mother had lived in Sitka as a young adult for a summer, she had family there. But Sitka might as well have been Japan, you had to fly there from Anchorage (no roads lead to islands), so who knew when they would be making a trip.
Theresa had assured her parents that they would be back in May to pick up their truck and drive it up, since Ben's parents felt nervous about them driving three year old Alex up the Alaska Highway (a two week trip in the summer, who knew how long in the winter) and had bought them these tickets they were using to fly up quickly. Theresa's voice was earnest but her face felt frozen as she searched her mother's face for the truth. For Theresa had no idea if she was coming back or not. Catastrophic things kept happening, probably one would happen to prevent their visit and they would be stuck there in the muddy tundra, gaping at bald eagles flying overhead while their parents went on living and growing older in their absence.