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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht

Above and Beyond

Updated: Apr 17, 2022

The sun is setting above the clouds, high over Canada, and according to our in-flight map, we now seem to be flying over Montreal towards Newfoundland and Labrador. Soon we will reach the air space beyond the blue Atlantic below. By that time, the sky will be a deep navy, moving into night.

The smell of airplane food being prepared wafts through the cabin as people settle into the seven hour journey ahead. One person to the left of me pulls out a book of crossword puzzles, others put headsets on, the screens embedded in the seats in front light up faces and provide an array of entertainment options. I’m not sure what I will watch yet, if anything. Perhaps if I cannot sleep.

One young girl ahead of me has switched from her digital game on an iPad to watching an animation film of similar style featuring wide-eyed cartoon characters.

I look down the aisle to see if the food trolley is coming. I’m hungry… or just bored. And if the latter is the case, it's going to be a long flight ahead! Unless I sleep.

Earlier in the afternoon, I was dropped off by my parents outside of the Terminal 1 Departures building at Toronto Pearson International Airport. It was a case of ‘Kiss and Fly’ rather than them coming in to wait with me as Covid restrictions are still in play. So it ended up being a quick good-bye. And while expected, it still caught me off guard in a way. The emotion of leaving crept up on me when I was waiting in the check-in queue, and the tears began to fall. I managed to collect myself before being called up to the counter to collect my boarding pass.

The time has flown, the two weeks went by so fast. My recent visit creates a happy whirlwind of memories and various encounters in my mind. It will take the duration of at least half the flight before things settle inside and I am able to look at what is ahead. For now, I savour and reflect.

I wish I could be in two places at once, or that Scotland was only a hop, skip and jump from Canada so I could nip over to my parent's, sister’s, brother’s or old friend's place for a spontaneous coffee and natter.

Yes, the world has become smaller in all sorts of ways, which includes the benefit of connecting via zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp….. BUT there is nothing like sharing physical space together....

...Or being able to step out to the local greenhouse to pick out some pots of pansies for planting - something my Mom and I did the day before leaving, as she wanted to add some brightness to their garden for Spring. As one lady who was there said to us, just being in the midst of all those flowers and colours would brighten any dull spirit. I would recommend it any day, rain or shine!

After our stop at Sunshine Gardens we decided to drop off a beautiful red flower at my Dad’s cousin’s home (which makes her my second cousin? Or my aunt?).

Here is the flower we chose for her:

We spent some time catching up over coffee. She is one of our only other Dutch relatives living in Canada, and in the same city too! Now in her 80s she is amazingly healthy, and determined to stay that way through a diligent routine of exercise and eating well.

Speaking of eating well, I decide on the French film ‘Délicieux’ for a bit of light entertainment before dinner.

Before we know it, after attempts at sleep, it is morning again. The cabin lights gradually brighten and a brown paper bag containing a croissant and a pot of yogurt is thrust into our hands by the steward pushing the trolley through the narrow aisle.

I look at the small screen in front of me.

Time to destination: 1 H 40 MIN

Distance to destination: 863 KM

Destination: London

The plane is about to fly over the southern tip of Ireland and then we are on the final leg to Heathrow Airport.

I can smell coffee which already does the job of waking me up, and I haven’t even tasted it yet!

The drinks trolley is taking forever to get here though.

There is a bittersweetness to the morning which floods the cabin with light.

Often when I envisage or imagine time spent across the ocean it turns out differently than I expected. These days I try to roll with things a bit more. I would have loved to see a few more people while in Ontario, but that makes the anticipation to return stronger.


Soon it is Easter. The busy airports are evidence of this.

It is a special time of hope and anticipation for new things and I'm grateful for this taste of fresh beginnings and reconnection in early Spring.

As the sun rises further I think of a song that my friend, Brian Draper, mentioned. It is a beautiful tune called 'The Sun Will Rise' written by The Brilliance. Here is the link:

Have a lovely Easter!

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