The days since last Friday have passed in a blur. It has all been so cliche’d in so many ways, but then, death so often is, isn’t it? Yes, backing up to explain…
My dear friend Rhoda died on Friday. She died while I was aboard a United Airlines flight, trying to get back to see her.
I got the word on Thursday that she had taken a turn for the worse. My reaction was typical of someone presented with that information-do I try to get back to NJ to see her? Do I stay where I am? Making the decision a little less possible for me was the state of our life: we’re traveling, we were due to leave Oregon the following Tuesday, should I stay or go? How could I possibly get ready on time? Would I stay in NJ after? If not, where would I return to? Handsome Husband would have to drive across country on his own to meet me-that would take weeks. Clearly, my brain was all over the place. And, true to form, when I expressed these concerns to the man I love so much, he said to me “Do you want to be there? And the answer was “yes”. Years ago when my brother and then my mom died, I had my husband and my kids, but I didn’t have a community. Now, I have this huge community of daughters from Tapestries of Hope, and how could I NOT be there amongst them? So, minutes later he had bought me a ticket, and early the next morning I was soaring first to San Francisco, then to Philly.
Flying, especially since 9/11, makes me anxious. I call it being prepared with forward thinking-you can call it what you like, but I spent the whole time from SF to PH eyeballing anyone who might be a possible terrorist, and figuring strategy for defeating them, a la’ flight 93. The percentage of the time I wasn’t doing that, I was searching out built specimens for fighting back (thank you, muscly guy 4 rows up!), or, contrarily, doing some preemptive worrying for my husband, driving across country on his own. Yes, he is a totally grown man, he is a good driver, he has all the attributes for driving across country on his own, except me. So, I was pretty busy as you can see, and I guess that was a good thing. It took forever, as such emotionally laden things are bound to do. We had no sooner landed than I texted my friend Natalie, who I expected would be at Rhoda’s. So well do I remember standing at my seat, the plane still coasting into the gate. And my phone rang. It was Natalie, and the first thing I said was “what’s wrong?”, and Natalie had to be the one to tell me that Rhoda had died that morning at 10 AM. It is all still too new for me to write those words and not feel sick. There is that daze that you can, thankfully, go into when you hear such words, and that daze got me off the plane, to baggage claim, and out to the curb, where, moments later, 3 of my other friends, daughters from TOH, pulled up to the curb, with hugs for me. And they delivered me to the best place I could be for the evening-an already planned gathering of daughters who immersed me in their love, and laughter, and shared sorrow. My community-they are my go-to sisters, and I was right where I needed to be.