It was Sunday, May 15th and it had been a long day. A delayed flight and now a 2.5 hour drive before we were to reach our destination. Reaching Florida we knew that the moment that we were both dreading was upon us. My husband, Don and I finally landed at the airport hours later then scheduled. We were both tired and unsure of what to expect in the next several days. Bob, a childhood friend of Don’s, and his wife Kathy arrived at the airport to pick us up. They got out of their truck and gave us hugs welcoming us to Florida stating with their eyes and smiles, they knew we had a long day and were empathetic. They also understood the grief that brought us on such short notice. Don’s father, Jim, who was 81 years old had passed just Friday, May 13th after a long battle with non alcoholic liver disease.
Getting into the truck, Kathy and I in the back and Bob and Don in the front. Don and I were so grateful for Bob’s natural ability to find things to talk about and keep our minds occupied for a little while longer. Bob and Kathy suggested that we stop to get dinner and have some time to decompress. There were mixed feelings that flooded both of us as we worried about Don’s mom, Ruth being at the house waiting for us but also thankful for a little more time to prepare for the whirlwind of emotions that were about to take place.
After a nice dinner we were on the road again. Thankful once again for the easy chatter between the four of us to keep us from thinking about seeing Ruth. It was so dark out and the place was so foreign to me I had no real idea where we were at, especially once we got off of the interstate and onto a highway. It was so dark but if I looked closely I could see lines of trees along the highway. But as we came to the little town which was only about 10 miles from Don’s parents house with the light from the street and a couple of stores I could recognize where we were. I immediately sensed Don’s anxiety. I was having a hard time concentrating on what Kathy was saying to me because I was so concerned about how Don must be feeling. We got news of his father’s passing over the phone just two days before while we were eating at Don’s favorite restaurant. I reached from the back seat to rub his shoulder and he immediately grasped my hand and held it tight. My heart was breaking thinking about the moment when he saw his mother, and that was when it was going to become real that the man who raised him had passed away. I could see Don tense up more and more as we got closer to our destination. Leaving the small town it was dark again, but Don knows this area really well, he knows he is so close to arriving at his mom and dad’s house where everything was different now. Bob must have been able to sense it as well, as the chatter had quieted down. We finally turned off onto the road that lead to his parents house and pulling up to the house Don nearly jumped out of the truck but then remembering his manners went to help Bob get our suitcase from the back of the truck. Ruth seeing us pull up met us at the back door. She hugged me first. She hugged me so tight and I let her cry for a minute, not saying anything until I finally said, “here let me give you your son” and Don went right into her arms. He reminded me of a young boy there hugging his mom. Bob, Kathy and I stood somewhat awkwardly trying to give them some time and knowing that this was a private moment between the two of them. A few minutes later we were inside the house. Bob and Kathy came in for a few minutes giving their condolences. They didn’t stay too long, they had a long drive back. We thanked them and gave hugs and wished them a safe ride home. The mother in me asked that they texted us to let us they made it safely and they assured us they would.
Once Bob and Kathy left we were in the kitchen and mom motioned for us to sit at the breakfast table and Don looked at the chair that Jim sat in and burst into tears he shook his head and said he couldn’t sit there, so I sat down there and Don grabbed a chair from the dining table to sit at the table with us. We were so tired but there was no way we could go to bed yet. Mom and Don needed to talk. Mom told us the events of the past week. Tears were shed, there were more hugs. Then came the defining moment that I will remember for a long time. Don got up and was hugging his mom as we were getting ready to go to bed. Because of my profound deafness I usually cannot hear what people are saying in a moment like that, with one person’s back towards me and the other person’s face buried into the neck of the person whose back is towards me. But in a quick second I heard the words spoken from a woman who I have known to be a strong, independent woman, who never wants to be a burden to her children, I heard as clearly as if she had said it in my ear and not Don’s. I heard her say “I need you.” I knew in that moment our lives would never be the same. I also knew that a moment like this was between God and I. He used moments like this to make it known that He was saying something and needed me to listen. I sat quietly watching a mother and son comfort each other and let the message God had given me start to sink in. Emotionally and physically exhausted we all went to bed to try to get some rest before awaking to a new day greeting us, another day to come to terms with our new lives.