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A long-awaited hug from mom is two separate countdowns away for eight-year-old Ruben Henriques.
The boy learned Wednesday he will soon be travelling from Newfoundland to Prince Edward Island to see his mother Abigail Henriques for the first time in almost five months.
Ruben will enthusiastically count away the days to that encounter. He will then count down the 14 days in isolation that must take place before he can embrace his mother and pepper her with kisses.
This is the longest period the pair have been apart, thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic. The hope is they will be cemented together for years to come in Belfast.
Ruben has been living in Newfoundland with his grandparents, Dr. Rick van Gelder and Christa van Gelder, while his mother has been working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at Atlantic Baptist Homes in Charlottetown.
Abigail and her boy lived with the van Gelders since Ruben was born but Abigail moved to P.E.I. in October 2017 to work. She was unable to remain in Newfoundland for personal reasons.
She cherished summer-long reunions with Ruben on P.E.I. and visits from her son during the Christmas and Easter holidays.
Abigail agonized as her parents had one application after another to travel to P.E.I. with Ruben under compassionate grounds denied.
The plan was for Ruben to self-isolate along with his grandparents for 14 days in an Airstream trailer parked next to his mother’s home, where the van Gelders plan to have construction begin this summer on a permanent home for their retirement.
Premier Dennis King’s announcement Wednesday that the province is ready to welcome back some seasonal residents seems to have opened the door for that plan to be put into place.
“I’m just very thankful that they (P.E.I. government) have taken another look at what needs to be done to bring P.E.I. residents back that are not permanent P.E.I. residents,’’ says Christa van Gelder.
“Given all the information that we can make available to them, I would be shocked if they say no (to the couple’s application).’’
The hope is to pack up for P.E.I. on June 8.
Premier Dennis King announced Wednesday the province is getting ready to welcome back some seasonal residents.
They will need to submit relevant travel and property ownership documents among other details as well as their self-isolation plans prior to travelling to P.E.I.
Ruben, who is autistic, will be waiting for the day of departure with a great intensity.
“He is very excited,’’ says Christa.
“As soon as we told him, he went upstairs and started packing. He is picking the toys he wants to bring with him.’’
Naturally, Abigail is also filled with great anticipation over the trio’s arrival on P.E.I. early next month.
“I’m just relieved that my parents and my son will be able to come here together and be able to provide that support … have my family back together,’’ says Abigail.
“My son is coming home for good.’’
She says the past few years have been “so hard’’ making the difficult decision to have Ruben live with his grandparents in Newfoundland while she lives and works on P.E.I.
She is thrilled at the prospect of once again living with her son on a permanent basis.
“Oh my gosh, being able to have my son back,’’ she says.
“It’s a new chapter – the next chapter of our lives together.’’