I was beginning to think of the commitment I made to myself to provide care and assistance for him as he faced onset of full blown AIDS. Our flight continued on to Atlanta after stopping over in Boston, where Karen and I deplaned. I inquired might it be possible to purchase the last leg of that trip so I could accompany Joe home. The only way the airlines would allow that was to forfeit my current ticket and purchase a new one. They were not willing to add onto my already booked itinerary. Since buying a ticket on the day of flight was expensively prohibitive, I decided not to accompany Joe home, but return to my home, gather my belongings and drive to Atlanta. After getting to Brussels we booked a hotel and prepared for our flight next morning. As was increasingly happening Joe, stayed in our rooms while Karen and I explored and enjoyed our last night of European adventure.
No amount of walking or sightseeing would alleviate my anxiety about the morning’s boarding procedure. I could not help but entertain the notions of what options we may face should the airlines refuse to board Joe. Karen helped with my concerns by becoming an active listener and assuring me that whatever we had to do she would take a working role and not just board the plane and return home. We managed to get a good nights rest. In the morning we prepared for our flight. Luckily, Joe had a good handle of how his medications worked. We wanted to get enough pain meds into him so that he would not appear in medical crises, but we also did not want to overdue it so that he appeared completely trashed. Joe knew exactly when to pop a pill so that while not in pain, he was also alert and could answer questions. We managed to board without difficulty.
Once aboard, fortune gave us a nod and a wink. Because our flight had contracted to carry a large load of parcels and mail, passenger space was limited. As a result the whole rear section was unoccupied. Once settled in our seats, we were allowed to move Joe to the back and use a row of five seats to create a makeshift bed. Joe looked like he enjoyed a restful flight back and slept most of the way. Joe even stayed in his bed when Karen and I disembarked. We hugged and wished him a good flight. I was impressed how much the scene had reversed from our entry onto a similar plane three weeks earlier when Joe greeted us exuberantly and welcomed us on our trip to Europe.