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The day I was flying out of Toronto was a quiet one. I’d been up most of the night, tending to my Crohn’s baby, which had been upset due to some quality dietary choices I’d made. We’d celebrated Crazy D’s birthday the night before, and as is tradition, whoever’s birthday it is, gets to choose what’s for dinner. Crazy D, like me, is a fan of tradition. We had The Mom’s special meatballs. Which are delicious. And greasy. I cannot handle greasy anymore. I pointed this out to The Mom and she replied that she’s used the leanest mince going. I replied by saying sometimes anything greasier than celery is problematic.

Then there was the cheesecake that The Mom got from the fancy Italian deli for dessert. I knew I should not have eaten any of it. But I am terrible around cake. I’m not even a huge cheesecake fan – I prefer the cheaper supermarket cakes that are primarily made out of edible oil products – that did not stop me. So I paid the price for my choices throughout the night as I tossed and turned, writhing in pain, visiting the bathroom. The usual.

So the day I was due to fly out, all the nice things I wanted to do with The Mom – like going to visit her favourite cockatoo again to see if he felt like dancing, going for a nice long walk – those all went out the window.

The Mom is never happy to see me ill, nor is she happy to see my case packed and waiting by the back door. So this was a double whammy.

We spent the day mooching around the house. The weather wasn’t great – icy, gloomy – and as my belly still hurt, I wasn’t going far. The Mom tried to entice me to eat something, and I came over and picked through a bowl of soup.

Then I retired to the couch to read and begged her to make me a fire, which obviously Mrs Beeton would also enjoy, after being brought down to enjoy it. The Mom wasn’t convinced, but she did it anyhow. Mrs Beeton and I spent a happy afternoon reading. Well, she didn’t read, she just looked at the fire and fluffed out her feathers.

After lunch, I grew hungry and announced this change to The Mom. Knowing what I’m like, and what the Crohn’s is like, she’s quick to make the most of any appetite I display. So we had popcorn which is always a treat for me, as The Mom has an air popping machine, which I don’t. If I want popcorn I have to buy a bag at the shop, and it’s just not the same. I like popcorn hot.

I munched away on that, and The Mom and I shuffled around for a while, discussing the contents of my case and whether or not it would be wise to try and cram even more weird stuff in it.

Eventually, Crazy D showed up, and we decamped for the airport. This is a well-rehearsed goodbye. I heavy my case into the back, put my backpack, which whatever food I think I can get through security crammed into it, and then I go back to give The Mom a hug and a kiss. This is the bit where we try not to burst into tears, though I know she probably sheds a few after the garage door’s closed. Crazy D and I repeat the scene at the airport.

Several hours later, when I arrive in London, confused and cranky, I shuffle out to the West Country. When finally I am back in Bristol, I send an email to The Mom, Crazy D, and L’il Sis. Announcing that I have made it back from whence I came in one piece. Then I sit down on my sofa and wonder what to do. It’s so strange to be on my own again, with no one around to natter to. So I know what The Mom means when she bangs on about how quiet the house is. My flat’s quiet too.

But she’s also right that I do look forward to coming home, and though it’s a trial getting there sometimes (Air Canada lost the plot and the co-pilot this year), and it’s not cheap, I could not imagine doing anything else. These weirdos are my weirdos, and a few weeks twice a year is the least I can do.

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