I see it's been over a month since I posted. During that month, I have been on quite an emotional roller coaster ride.
Everything began beautifully. On July 17th, Tom & I flew to Key West. We made plans to get married there the following day and enjoy the rest of the week there celebrating our honeymoon. We were blessed with smooth flights and great weather. Everything was working in our favor. Our wedding aboard the Western Union schooner came off without a hitch. After 5 years, we were now husband & wife. Marital bliss. We really enjoyed each other and the time we got to spend with each other. We para-sailed, walked on ghost tours, shopped, snorkeled, sunned, and attended a few shows. Oh yeah, and we eat & drank. A LOT. We had such a fabulous time, not only did we vow to come back next year, we actually considered extending our honeymoon by staying another week. The thought was enticing, but we both had things brewing back home so we stuck with the original plan of returning home on the 22nd.
I remember the night before we left, laying across our hammock, laughing and having the best time together. I was laughing so hard and feeling so carefree when suddenly I remembered something my dad used to say, "Laugh today, cry tomorrow." I hated the fact that in the midst of such joy and closeness that that stupid adage crept into my mind. I did my best to push it away and continued to enjoy my new husband. The next morning was a bit hectic as we packed for our flight home, checked out of our hotel, and summoned a cab for the ride to the airport. In route to the airport, we shared the cab with another couple and our talkative cabbie. While enjoying the sights during the brief ride, my phone rang. It was my mom. My mom never calls me, I always call her. Seeing her name on the screen made me freeze. This couldn't be good. I left the call go to voicemail. If it wasn't important, I could get back to her once we checked in. If it was bad news, I didn't want to hear it in a public setting. After that call, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Once again, I was reminded of the adage that popped into my head so unexpectedly the night before, "Laugh today, cry tomorrow." I think it was at that moment that I knew what I was going to hear from my mom. And I didn't want to hear it, not now, not ever.
While Tom was collecting our luggage from the cab, I returned my mom's call. The phone was busy. I tried again. And again. Finally on the third attempt, she answered. As soon as I heard her voice I knew what was coming. There I was at the Key West airport, listening to my mom tell me my daddy had passed. The tears came immediately although I couldn't say a word. Tom knew immediately what had happened. I don't really remember much after that. I don't remember the remainder of the conversation, I don't remember hanging up the phone, checking in, going through security or finding my way to the lounge. My poor husband had been hired for the job less than four days prior and now he was being faced with possibly the hardest job he will ever have, trying to get me through this without any preparation. I remember him bringing me a Bloody Mary and a handful of napkins (can you believe in that steamer trunk of a purse I carry, not one tissue). Somehow I managed to board the plane and get safely to Ft. Lauderdale, endure a 4 hour layover (complete with lunch and another drink or two), a flight back home, and a cab ride to our door without remembering most of it.
Sometimes when you are expecting and experiencing times of great joy, life throws you a curve ball. My curve ball was the size of bowling ball and came with just as much force. Weeks later, I am still numb at times. At other times, I hurt so badly, I don't think I can survive the pain. I cannot even to begin to explain what a wonderful man my dad was. He once saved me from drowning when I was a kid and in some ways, he'd been saving my life ever since. My mother told me that in her last minutes with my dad, she told him that Tom & I were married. Somehow, I think he knew that it was ok for him to go. We had many close calls with my dad for months before, but he had seemed to stabilize in recent weeks. I think he knew. He was getting progressively weaker, but he hung on until he had the opportunity to hand me over to my husband. He had given me away as his final act as my daddy. He will always be with me, I talk to him everyday. I like to think he is at peace now and he is as brilliant and strong as I prefer to remember him.
I know it will soon be time for me to turn the page and get on with my life, but I'm just not there yet. But one day soon, I hope that I will be able to laugh again and not worry about the tears that may or may not come the next day.