Every three weeks for months, Kiera Norris would pack her many bags, board a train to Beijing Capital International Airport and hope — despite the fact that COVID-19 had shut down most flights — that she would be able to board a plane to take her home.
But time and time again her flight was cancelled, which meant waiting even longer until she could go home to her husband in Windsor, Ont.
“It was really hard,” Norris said.
She and her husband, Kevin Norris, have been married for 10 years.
What made that distance even harder, they say, is the fact that, normally, they do everything together.
“You know the couples that enjoy their time apart?” said Kevin Norris, “We’re not like that.”
Separated in March
The couple runs a small business together, which is what takes them to China every year. Not only that, but Kiera Norris’s family lives in Shijiazhuang, a city about three hours south of Beijing by car.
Usually they travel together, except this year, when Kiera Norris went alone. She arrived on January 10, planning to visit her family. Her husband planned to arrive two weeks later.
But when COVID-19 hit — and airports across the globe shut down — the pair knew they were in trouble.
The first flight Kiera Norris was able to schedule was set to fly out on March 19, but it was cancelled.
“Every three weeks they rebooked it, and then it was cancelled again,” Kevin Norris said.
Facetime, Skype calls
Time stretched on and, still, there was little hope of a reunion.
And for a couple that’s used to spending almost every minute together, the distance — all 9,750 kilometres of it — was hard.
Both nature lovers, the pair spend much of their free time hiking, biking and taking pictures of the scenery.
“Our life is more and more perfect, more hopeful, more meaningful and actually very happy every day to see each other,” Kiera Norris said.
So in place of in-person experiences, they turned to technology.
Kevin Norris said they would Facetime and Skype everyday without fail because they “like to keep that connection strong.”
But they said it wasn’t the same.
Reunited at last
In total, Kierra Norris made the trip to Beijing’s international airport nine times unsuccessfully.
Finally, after nine months, she was able to board a plane on Saturday that would bring her home.
The flight departed from Beijing and took her to Shanghai. From there, she took a flight to Vancouver and then another flight that brought her to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport early Sunday morning.
The journey, which usually takes 12 hours, took a little over a day — but they said it was well worth it.
When they saw each other, the couple shared a long embrace, mumbling words of affection.
“Hi baby, I love you,” were Kiera Norris’s first words to her husband.
When asked how they were feeling at the airport, they summed it up into one word: “incredible.”
“I’m so happy,” Kevin Norris said.