My grandfather died last summer, and my grandmother followed him about a week ago. As I write this I’m sitting in the Detroit airport waiting for my mother to arrive so that we can take the last plane ride together to Kalamazoo, where my grandmother will be laid to rest next to the still dirt covered grave of my grandfather. I live in California and she was visiting my brother when my grandmother died.
This time, like a few months ago, I packed only a conservative black dress and shoes into a small bag I can take on the airplane. It’s the same black dress I bought for my Grandfather’s funeral, and the dress I already know will be used for only this purpose for the foreseeable future. I have the brief thought that I’m getting used to the whole funeral travel thing, so it will be easier next time. Then I quietly hope there will never be a next time.
Airports are strange places when you’re traveling for death. Usually I welcome the anonymity that comes with air travel, and I enjoy the people watching. Usually there is excitement in the packing for the trip, and happiness greeting me at its conclusion. The airport layover, usually a time when I’m anticipating the next flight of the trip and wondering if I should get another coffee while I wait, today feels like a holding room to the inevitable sadness that awaits the end of the next flight, and I feel immeasurably lonely.
It’s at these times I question the choices I’ve made that led me here, and why at 36 years old, I have no husband to hold my hand and drive the car so I don’t have to do it while I’m crying, or children to give unconditional love hugs whenever they see even a trace of sadness in me. Then inevitably, I make myself laugh out loud as I systematically go through every boyfriend I’ve ever had and imagine how they would handle this situation if they were here, and suddenly being alone is preferable because each of those guys was definitely not the right one for this situation.
In fact, I’m fairly certain at least two of them would have somehow turned this event into something that was all about them and I would be the one doing the consoling.
Three others wouldn’t have bothered to come along at all.
Ultimately, I realize that my life is exactly what it should be, and I’m exactly where I should be at this moment.
Which right now is at an airport waiting.
Waiting to say goodbye one last time, and waiting for whatever is next.