I was not looking forward to going to my mother's funeral. Obviously, emotions would be raw, and my family is not close at the best of times. Additionally my parents retired to a remote area of Texas which is far away and not easy to reach. There is an airport two hours from their house, but there are no direct flights there from any of the three major airports in my area. So getting there always involves plenty of time and money. But I felt that clearly I needed to be there, to pay my respects and to see how my father was coping. Neither of the children wanted to go; both are very diligent students and feared missing several days of school. The Sober Husband is still fresh in his shiny new job but was game to accompany me.
The night before the funeral the Sober Husband checked the weather forecast. "The high is going to be below freezing," he informed me cheerily. Expletives escaped my dainty lips. Although I'm from Maine originally, I have lived in California for over twenty years. I don't have any winter clothes. Usually Texas is in the seventies, but a freakish storm was advancing. "It's going to be colder than Alaska," I noted after doing some searches online.
The day came to leave. I got better flights from San Jose than I could find from San Francisco, so I planned to pick up the Sober Husband at his Silicon Valley office on the way to the airport. (Almost every flight combination had a travel time of over 11 hours, but I managed to find one clocking in at only 5 hours by flying out of San Jose). I kissed the children goodbye in the morning and ran about like a decapitated chicken during the day running last minute errands. Then I set out to meet the Sober Husband.
As I drove down to Mountain View in heavy traffic, the Sober Husband called to tell me our flight had been delayed an hour. I kept driving. He called again to say it had been delayed two hours, meaning we would miss our connecting flight. We agreed that we'd go to the airport and try to figure something out with the customer service people, and I kept driving. He called a third time to say that our second flight, the one to where my parents live, had been cancelled entirely. "Let me think, "I said, and I hung up. I called him back and asked him to call some other airlines and see what they could do.
When I reached the Sober Husband's office complex, I felt like trying out the fancy new valet parking which had recently been instated. I pulled up by the valet parking booth. The valet was talking to a man with a clipboard, and they both rather ostentatiously turned their backs on me, as if to say, "Not for the likes of you." "Fuck it, " I thought. "I'll roll old school and park myself." Was the problem my gender? My lack of techie geek cred -- is it that obvious? Surely it wasn't my car, as a youngish, undented Mini Cooper should be welcome anywhere. I found a parking space for my beloved Baby and hiked back to the lobby, where I found the uncustomarily dour Sober Husband scouring Expedia.
We both worked our cellphones and took turns with his laptop. But the answer was clear: there was no way we could get to El Paso the next day before the funeral. The best case scenario would be arriving several hours afterward, and that didn't feel worth it for me, as we needed to return the very next day for a variety of reasons. We called my father and told him we couldn't come.
Due to this large and unseasonably early winter storm, over one hundred flights from Denver, where we were due to change flights, were canceled. Ours was one of them. I was so glad we hadn't gotten on our first, severely delayed flight, as I could only imagine what it would be like at Denver, with all the people from all those over a hundred flights stuck there.
We texted our neighbors, who were hosting Iris and Lola for a few nights, and the friend who was having Lola over after school to say that it was all a false alarm and we'd be returning home.
Back at home I felt discombobulated. I was supposed to be having a painful, cathartic, awkward family moment, not feeding the pets and driving Lola to school as usual. On the bright side, with this extra time the Sober Husband was able to arrange to go to his brother's wake in Chicago. So at least one of us will get some sort of a catharsis or meaningful moment.
Hope you're not beating yourself up over this, afterall Hell (Texas) Froze Over
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