We were back in Kentucky. We were here to bury my father. Tears welled again, uncontrolled, and rolled down my face. I glanced over at my mother, sitting next to me in the back seat of our rental car. Her own tears spilled down her cheeks. She, too, was lost in her own grief laden thoughts. It was even more heartbreaking for me to imagine her loss. My head pounded like a thundering drum inside my skull and I squeezed my eyes closed and tried to shut the pain off. I couldn’t. I opened my eyes again and looked out the window trying to make sense of it all.
A snow storm had arrived at the same time our plane landed in Louisville. After a 3:00 a.m. start to a long day of airport lines, snafus, plane changes and a cross country flight, we were finally in the car on our way to my cousin’s home.
Snow was blowing around us and frosting the world outside. We had an hour drive to go from Louisville to Lexington and my husband (a native Californian) had stepped up to the challenge of driving this leg of our journey. My brother rode shotgun next to him. They were a good team. Their conversation consisted of road directions and traffic and I welcomed the distraction from my grief.
I'd been back to Kentucky for a visit with extended family when we made a trip to Nashville, three years earlier, but it had been a very long time since I'd visited Lexington with any snow on the ground.
I was in the 7th grade and we'd come to visit my grandparents for Christmas. All of the rest of our annual trips were during the summer, since Dad was a teacher and had all of his summers off.
This time we’re here for you. This would be his last trip. I tried not to think about leaving him here. About having him so far away from me.
It felt surreal to be making this trip for the purpose of laying my dad to rest next to his parents. How did this happen so fast? I was just talking to him, he was being funny, teasing us.
I remember feeling confident that he'd be fine, probably weak and not feeling like coming to our house for our traditional family Christmas Eve dinner, but I was certain that the New Year would arrive with him out of the hospital and with us again.
I was right.
He was no longer in the hospital. He was home. His soul was home with his Heavenly Father and his body was home in KY. And now, January 2, 2014 we were home with him, too.
At that moment, I wished we could have been anywhere else. I wished that all of this was just one of my disturbing nightmares and I would wake up from it, with my heart beating fast and my day thrown off, but grateful that it was just a bad dream.
But, it was not a bad dream this time. It was real. It was a sharp piece of truth that had spun the world I knew, upside down and left me disoriented.
I continued to look out the window but my vision was blurred by swirling snow outside and the veil of tears. I blinked, took a deep breath and prepared myself for what would end up being the hardest day I’d lived, in a very long time.