Backpack, beach bag, exercise roller and a sun hat large enough to shade two completes my traveling ensemble, and I head to the airport.

I’ve prepared for and anticipated this trip more than most. I’m heading home to Cuba. I haven’t been back in over eight years. And this time I’m going with my daughter, who is working on doctoral research, and my one-year-old grandson. I can’t wait to show him off, to speak Spanish, to walk Havana’s cobbled streets and to visit family friends.

But I only get as far as Atlanta when I learn my visa is denied.

Disappointment. It happens to all of us.

My daughter immediately started asking if there was something she should have known or done earlier (blaming self). I, on the other hand, didn’t believe it was really possible, (denial) then started making plans for how we could solve this problem (fixing) to thinking of positive reasons for not going (silver lining). In between cell phone calls, texts and waiting for that solution that would surely come, we talked about our response to disappointment.

In my early years of parenting, I brushed disappointment off as just part of life, something we all had to get used to. What I was really doing was not allowing myself to live wholeheartedly. What looked like strength was fear. I was too afraid to desire. And worse, I wasn’t able to enter into the disappointments of my children. In attempts to make them feel better, I did what I was doing now: denying, fixing, giving silver-lining answers. If that produces anything, it’s alienation, leaving my children alone and confused and me blithely reciting Christian colloquialisms that while true, I haven’t yet wrestled with to make my own.

What does it look like to lean into disappointment? To accept it as an invitation to dance with The Holy One? We didn’t know, but we both wanted that dance. We decided to stop talking. Michaelanne said she was going out to the porch and I went to my guest room. In quiet, in meditation and with lots of auditory sighs, I thought through my hopes and dreams for this trip. And yet a thought began to grow in the back of my mind: “It’s not the right time to go. Don’t push to make this happen.” “But I like to push. I like to make things happen’, I countered. A couples dance always requires one person to lead and one person to follow. I have a hard time dancing; I don’t like to follow! “Really Shari, you’re accepting my invitation?”

Later, when Michaelanne and I reconnected, I told her what I was sensing. She was completely surprised. She had come to the same conclusion. We laughed. We spoke of all we would miss. We got my grandson into his bathing suit and went swimming.

Yesterday, I flew back to NYC and Michaelanne flew to Cuba.