N.L. cousins count down the days to their restriction-free reunion

·3 min read
Sandra-Lee Layden cuddles with Max, her cousin Megan Crocker's son. Max was born just as Layden's two-week quarantine ended. (Submitted by Megan Crocker - image credit)
Sandra-Lee Layden cuddles with Max, her cousin Megan Crocker's son. Max was born just as Layden's two-week quarantine ended. (Submitted by Megan Crocker - image credit)
Submitted by Megan Crocker
Submitted by Megan Crocker

When Sandra-Lee Layden came home to St. John's for a visit last year, the Ontario resident had to wait two weeks before she could hug her friends' little girl, Abigale.

But when her plane touches down in St. John's this time around, Layden won't be making any pit stops en route to Abigale's house.

"This time I get to go straight off the plane," she told CBC's Here & Now.

With Newfoundland and Labrador having officially waived quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated Canadians starting July 1, vaccinated visitors like Layden are eager to reunite with family and friends, restriction-free.

When she heard restrictions would be lifted for fully vaccinated travellers, Layden said she booked a flight in less than a minute.

"I miss my friends, my family, my grandparents, my cousins," said the Dildo native, who now lives north of Toronto.

But it's the less-than-familiar faces she's looking forward to seeing the most: "Obviously the little people in my life, the little babies," she said.

Since Layden's last visit, a number of friends have welcomed new additions: Her cousin Megan had a little boy, Max, and another friend had a boy named Salem.

Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada
Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada

"So all these little babies are waiting at home for me to come fully vaccinated and give them hugs and kisses," she said. "I'm so excited."

And then there's Abigale, 7, who is fighting lymphatic leukemia and has been undergoing chemotherapy for the past year.

Layden's cousin Megan Crocker remembers the moment she found out her cousin was coming back home for a visit.

"The two of us just couldn't stop crying," she said.

The best part, she said, is not having to wait to see each other again.

"I can hug her right away and not have to stay behind a fence," she said. "I'm over the moon."

'It meant a lot to me'

Crocker expects Layden's next visit to be quite different from the last — for more reasons than one.

Crocker was "super pregnant" when Layden was in quarantine last time, she said. The two cousins struck a deal: no babies until quarantine lifts.

"And I had the baby the day after she was out of quarantine," Crocker said.

Being able to meet baby Max was the greatest gift Layden could have received.

Submitted by Megan Crocker
Submitted by Megan Crocker

"It meant a lot to me that she held off until I could officially come and hold [the baby] safely," she said. "He'll be just a year old when I get home, so it's a whole different human I'm coming home to."

Layden says, other than seeing friends and family, there's one more activity she can't wait to check off her to-do list: quiet time by the ocean.

"The biggest thing is in Ontario, any time there's a body of land or solid body of water, people want to go gather by it," she said.

The only person more excited about Layden's visit is her cousin, Megan Crocker.

"I got my outfit for my little one as soon as she touches down," she said. "I know we're going to cry again. And we're just going to hang out so much. I'm not going to let her go."

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