Reunion waits for the ash to settle

With the Atlantic Ocean between them, their relationship has survived. But Mother Nature had other plans for their reunion.

Hannah Beck, 22, met 24-year-old Edgar van de Meer, at Taylor Statten Camps in Algonquin Park (in northern Ontario) in July 2008. Their relationship bloomed throughout that summer. When Beck returned home to Toronto and van de Meer to the Netherlands, they decided to give a long-distance relationship a try.

“When you’re in a long-distance relationship, you’re forced to get to know each other emotionally and psychologically and mentally, instead of having the physical side to distract you,” Beck said.

Van de Meer proposed to Beck last October. They planned to marry in April 2011. This spring he packed up his life in the Netherlands to move to Toronto for good. But the volcanic eruption in Iceland threw an ash cloud across Western Europe and in their way.

The ash reduced visibility and had the potential to shut down jet engines. Airports in Europe – including those in Holland – cancelled flights .

“I went to the airport… and stood in line for about two hours. Got told, ‘Sorry, we can’t re-book you,’” Van de Meer said. “So I went to another airline and asked how many seats were available… I called United right away… and said, ‘They told me that there are 114 seats, can you please get me on that flight?’”

If nothing else, their long-distance relationship has taught them to improvise. The couple speaks daily on the phone and through Skype. They make the trek to see one another for a week at a time, every four months. After waiting nearly two years to be together, they said, a simple flight delay wouldn’t be insurmountable.

“Everybody’s like, ‘Well, at least he’s not just coming to visit; at least he’s coming to stay.’ But you want him to be here now; you don’t want to wait,” Beck said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster because you don’t know if you should get excited.”

Then, on Tuesday (April 20), the couple got a break. The volcano ash relented. Van de Meer secured a ticket aboard one of the first planes out of the Netherlands. The couple was reunited that day.

“We’ve been waiting for this for about two years now,” Beck said. “He met me when I was in sweatpants and no make-up, so I feel no pressure with (him).”