Thanks to some very generous people here in Amarillo, the boys and I were able to fly home quickly in time for Brenda’s first visitation in Chattanooga on Tuesday night, and thereby be a part of her second visitation and funeral service in Maryville on Wednesday and burial on Thursday in the family cemetery in Townsend. In between each event was time spent with the extended Miller family, all 800 of them, who each took a moment to love on the boys and tell me how sweet they are. (As if I wasn’t already stunned by their near-perfect behavior this week…) I have a separate post coming on each child and how he responded to Brenda’s passing.
Though this week was emotionally difficult, it wasn’t without times of laughter and shared memories with family and friends. We were even able to carve out time with Karin and the kids and the Valovcin family. Those were two boosts I personally needed.
Leaving today was a struggle. It didn’t help that we were running on empty after spending the week eating drive-thru fare and getting too little sleep. On top of the emotional drain, we barely made our flight, and if Chuck hadn’t been there to carry Jackson the second leg of the concourse, we wouldn’t have made it. Choking back tears, we raced on the plane only to find a bunch of empty middle seats, nothing practical for a mother and two young children. Jeremy led the way to the back of the aircraft, where I proceeded to ask a group of total strangers, “So who wants a four year old between them?”
About 20 faces stared back at me blankly as I waited for someone to move. No one did, so the tears I’d been choking back all day, all week, and for the last four months, came flowing down my face.
“Will any of you let me sit with my boys, please?”
With that request, and probably out of fear, four people immediately stood up and offered to switch seats so I could be in the same row with the boys. Then another two men offered to get my bags and a flight attendant brought coloring books. We settled in as I wiped my eyes, feeling foolish with a flushed face. One more gentleman spun around and said, “Are you okay?”
An entire dialogue played in my head: I’m just so tired because I haven’t slept all week and I’m with the kids alone and my oldest is in a real trying phase right now and we almost didn’t make the flight and I hate flying and I’m tired of saying goodbye and there’s a whole lot of other stuff I’m worried about and I haven’t run in a long time so I’m extra tense and I’m leaving a job I love and I really miss Tennessee and my house won’t sell and I’m so sad that my boys won’t have more memories with their grandmother and…
But all I said was, “We’ve had a death in the family.”
With that, the two men on either side of the boys graciously engaged them in conversation so I could take a moment to breathe. From then on, it was mostly about fighting the urge to nap and keeping the boys in good spirits along the way home.
So we’re home and my sweet Salem hasn’t left my side since I walked through the door. And though I’ve spent the evening unpacking and pondering the week, I am most excited about Daylight Savings and that blissful extra hour of sleep.