Saturday, January 1, 2011
Just one more time...
And finally we landed. It was one of those bumpy, hang onto the seat in front of you while saying a little prayer, landings. Of course I was seated way back in the plane. I impatiently waited for the gazillion people in front of me to get their belongings. Jeez, this must be national slow motion day and nobody told me. Do these people not know that I have a situation and I need to get off this piece of metal immediately? PRONTO. I turned my cell phone on. No new messages. I decided that was a good thing. No news was good news. I worked on my deep breathing exercises as I fought the urge to climb over the seats in order to get off the plane. Did the lady in 22A not understand that I was in a hurry? Obviously not as she decided to stretch her arms, readjust her panties and freshen up her lipstick in the middle of the aisle. I bit my tongue. Somebody somewhere decided this would be a good day to test my patience. Not sure I will be getting a gold star on this one.
I don't think I even responded when the flight attendant and pilot flashed their unnaturally white smiles at me as they told me to have a great day. If they only knew. Parts of that day seem like a blur while other parts will never be forgotten.
I had never been to the Las Vegas airport before so it was rather overwhelming to be greeted by rows and rows of slot machines. People stood at the machines trying one last time to hit it big. It was the perfect location to do some prime people watching if I had been in the mood, if I had nothing else on my mind, if I hadn't felt like I was going to vomit at any second.
I had a very short layover in Vegas before jumping onto the next jet for the final leg of my journey. I was headed to Florida to see my dad. One more time. Over the past few months Dad's health had been failing and I had made many trips from my home in NH down to Florida. It only takes a few hours if I get a direct flight and if the pilot puts the pedal to the metal. Hmmm...do planes have gas pedals ? I must google that at a later date. But this trip was entirely different.
I had been visiting my oldest daughter in sunny CA for a couple of weeks. She had recently given birth to her first child and my husband and I were meeting our granddaughter for the first time. She truly is our little sweet pea. We were spending our days cuddling, snuggling and bonding with her. But it was while I was there that I received the phone call that Dad had been moved to a hospice facility. I knew this day was coming. I had been to visit Dad two weeks earlier and it was clear that his life here on Earth was coming to an end. I told him that I loved him. He told me that he loved me. There were no deep revelations or new understanding. There were no apologies given. There were no secrets shared. There was just the love between a dad and his daughter and that was enough. So when the phone call came telling me that he was in Hospice I did lots of self talk ~ " Debbie, you are prepared for this. You knew that this day was coming. This isn't a shock. Buck up girl. Go enjoy your little sweet pea. You said your good-byes. Be strong." I decided this might be a good time to try out some deep breathing exercises or meditation or yoga since I felt as if I was going to start vomiting violently. So I did what I do best in emergency situations...I cried. Hard. Non-stop. And in the middle of the night I knew what I had to do. I had to get to my Dad's side one more time so I could tell him that I loved him - just one more time.
I told my story to the lady at Southwest Airlines. She worked hard to get me to Tampa as quickly as possible but the reality is that CA is far away from Florida ~ over 3000 miles in fact. She booked my trip for me. I would be by my Dad's bedside in ten hours if you factor in time zone changes which always confuses me. My next call was to my sister who was with my Dad. I asked her to hold the phone to my Dad's ear. "Dad, I'm coming. I'll be there as soon as I can. I need to see you Dad. I love you Dad." Please don't die Dad. I'm not ready for this. I need more time.
I walked around the Las Vegas airport with all of its bells and whistles. I needed to find a quiet zone. I needed to call my sister so I could update her on my progress. I wanted her to hold the phone to Dad's ear so I could tell him that I was almost there. I needed to tell him that I loved him just one more time.
I sat down on a hard plastic seat outside of the airport bathrooms surrounded by hundreds of people. I hit the speed dial button which would connect me to my sister. She finally answered. "Deb, Dad passed away ten minutes ago." No. She must be mistaken. I was pretty positive he was going to wait for me to get there so I could tell him just one more time that I loved him. How could it be that time had run out ? I needed to tell him just one more time how much he had meant to me. But just like all those people standing at the slot machines, my luck had run out. I had run out of time. Again.