This article was written in conjunction with my son Christopher. We lived this experience together and I wanted to get his side of the story.
Sunday, February 26 at 4:30 am
Isabelle: We’re off to the airport for our annual family vacation. Everyone is excited. In a few hours, we’ll all have our butts in the sand! For the last week, I’ve been falling asleep looking at pictures of our hotel and of Saint-Lucia. I can’t wait to arrive.
Sunday, February 26 at 6 am
Isabelle: “Christopher’s passport is expired. He can’t leave.” Those words hit me like a bomb. Impossible, I thought. Am I dreaming or rather having a nightmare? How could it be that I who has traveled often over the last few years could forget something like that? My husband was just as shocked. No, It’s a joke and we’ll find a solution. I tell the agent: “Please, It’s a kid and his passport just expired. Give us a break!” But I knew there is no way around it when you don’t have a passport. That’s why my stomach turned to knots when the agent said those fateful words.
Christopher: When I found out that my passport was expired I started to panic. It was the first time that that happened to me, so I started to cry. It was really hard for me to leave my dad and my brother. We always travel together!
Isabelle: I saw my son’s face and he had tears in his eyes, and I just wanted to grab him and tell him “I’m sorry my love, it’s our fault”. I told my husband that I would stay behind with Christopher to deal with the issue and suggested he take the plane with our youngest son. It was a sad moment for our family, but one that was necessary. We couldn’t ruin everyones vacation. So Christopher and I left the airport with our luggages and sad faces in complete disbelief. On the way home, the silence in the car was heavy. We tried to make jokes and laugh about it, but the truth was our hearts were hurt.
Christopher: In the car, I felt like I wasn’t going to get a passport for another two weeks. I felt that my mom was stressed and I tried to make her feel better by telling her it was like we were going North of Saint-Lucia on an excursion. When I thought of my dad and my brother, I wanted them to have fun and not worry about us.
Sunday, February 26 at 13 pm
Isabelle: It’s Sunday and no passport offices are open! The following 24 hours were stressful, as you can imagine. I was busy filling out papers, searching new flight options, all while not knowing how long it would take to get another passport.
Sunday, February 26 at 6 pm
Christopher: Mama was just told on the phone by a Passport Canada agent (urgent services) that my dad has to send written authorization to co-sign my passport that he then has to get signed by a lawyer or a judge to then send to the Canadian consulate in Barbados (the island closest to Saint-Lucia). I was scared that my mom and I were both going to have a heart attack. When we reached my dad by phone later that day, he asked us; “Do you know who works at the Canadian consulate in Barbados? Debbie! She stayed with us this summer. I’m calling her now to find out how to proceed.” My mom and I laughed so hard! It’s fascinating how small the world is.
Monday, February 27 10:45 am
Isabelle: Sometimes life is funny. Thanks to my husband’s childhood friend, he knew exactly what to do and was able to send the papers rapidly to the Montreal passport office the next day. No need to tell you that Christopher and I arrived very early at the GuyFavreau complex. We were ready to spend the day in the passport office if we had to to get his passport in less than 24 hours.
Christopher: While we were waiting, mama bought new flight tickets. Take off would be the next day at 6 am. She said we had to take a chance and trust in life. We had my passport in 60 minutes!
Tuesday February 28 at 8 am
Christopher: I’m in the plane and on my way to Saint-Lucia. My mom asked me to write my take on the events of the last few days for her article. I’ve never been so happy to take the plane before in my life!
Isabelle: We’re sitting in the plane with two big smiles on our faces. I reflect on the last 48 hours. Not once did Christopher complain, not once did he make me or my husband feel responsible. Sometimes, we were sitting quietly side by side while we waited to join the rest of our little family. Other times, we created fun moments like supper with the neighbours, sleeping in the same bed and going to the movies. Our vacation was cut short, but were so happy to have found our little cocoon and a few days to let loose, and take advantage of each other's company.
If you’re ever in a similar passport fiasco, visit the government of Canada’s website. If you call urgent services, call 1 800 567-6868 and leave a message. Someone will call you back within the hour.