I’m sure you all can relate when I say that, as a military spouse living far away from family, I have missed a LOT of important events. I’ve missed weddings and funerals, graduations and showers…the list goes on and on. Normally, I can find a way to justify missing something:
“I’m nine months pregnant and can’t travel.”
“I’ll just send a really good wedding gift.”
“I write better than I speak, so I’ll send a sympathy card.”
But that was before this most recent death. My husband was on a training detachment, and I found myself on the other end of one of “those” calls. The ones that everyone dreads. My dad saying, “Well, Grandma called this morning. Aunt Mary passed away last night. The services are Saturday.” Immediately, a thousand different thoughts went through my head, but I pushed them aside to go into Survival Mode. You all know this feeling: your spouse is gone and you have to take care of something important, so you shut off your emotions to solve the problem.
The first thing to do was book a flight. I called Southwest and they got us on a flight out the next day at a ridiculously low military fare. Contacted the dog trainer to pick up our dog. Started laundry and packing. By the time we sat down for dinner, I was exhausted, and frustrated that all of this was happening while Craig was gone. Perhaps the most difficult thing was canceling on a luncheon scheduled for the same day as the services. I was to be honored at a luncheon that had been on the books for six months. It was also the first event that my mom was going to be able to attend, we were going to debut our newest book (stay tuned!) and I could not have been more excited. However, I knew that if I stayed I wouldn’t be at my best. I would be worrying about my Grandma, my dad, and the rest of my family.
My Aunt Mary was one of those ladies that would do anything for anyone. When I was in elementary school, if I needed to go home sick and the school couldn’t reach my mom, they would call Aunt Mary and Aunt Ginger (sisters) to pick me up. I would lie on the couch, watching The Price is Right, eating fruit Mentos. One day when my throat was particularly sore, I was given a bell to ring if I needed anything. She could only see the good in people and this was never more evident, or entertaining, than a few years ago when my Aunt Marg and I walked her out as Aunt Ginger went to bring the car around. Aunt Mary proclaimed that “Ginger really is the best driver” as she backed over my Aunt Marg’s beautiful flower bed. She will be missed. And I needed to be there to say goodbye.
Have you lost someone important to you while you were living away from home? Did you stay, or did you go?