Fatigued, spent, and disoriented from the long flight and the even longer queue at the Immigration that required some picture taking, some interview, and some bio-metrics, I couldn’t describe what I felt at the crowded San Francisco Airport.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning, cool and chilly—the same Sunday morning, hot and humid, we left in Manila 15 hours earlier.

At the arrival area, Adrian (who met us with his mom G) ran to hug us. Aaahhh. Then we walked some more in a huge parking area to find their car. It was another hour drive to our hotel in Cupertino, our home for the next four days, where the bed instantly sucked Tony, with his aching right knee, in.

My manong (big bother) Ped, a minister, called, saying he was half expecting us to be sitting in the pews while he delivered his sermon. He was prepared to lengthen it in case we came in late. That was the original plan, but our jet-lagged bodies refused to cooperate. He wanted to meet up with all of us at lunch; I didn’t have the heart to wake Tony up.

So only Adrian, G, and I drove to a nearby restaurant. My head was still afloat and I couldn’t put my finger on how or where I was, but hoped that lunch might make my head land atop my neck.

At Applebee’s the waitress was perky, pretty, and full of life—the opposite of where my body had dragged me down. “What would you have?” she asked.

I chose the first item my droopy eyelids could make out, “Romaine salad.”

“Perfect!” she said.

Adrian ordered teeny burgers, and she said, “Perfect!”

G’s order had the waitress saying, “Perfect!” too.

My manong arrived with his wife, all dressed-up from the church service. It was the long-awaited, wonderful reunion I had looked forward to. I wished Tony were around. Manong Ped was the reason our first stop was San Francisco—to be able re-connect with him and his family in Cupertino after many years.

Their orders made the waitress say, “Perfect!” as well.

As we lunched, chatting about then, this, and that, I felt grace embrace me, tightly, even as I tried to summon my head, still stubbornly hovering inches over my body, unable to land where it should be.

It was then that I was finally able to spell the word to describe our arrival in this foreign land that was once-upon-a-time Tony’s and my second home, p-e-r-f-e-c-t. In short, grace.

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