It's been a while... a long while... much has happened, and I'm not really sure where to start. I'm not really sure that I want to, but at the same time, I want nothing more than to share...
So, perhaps I'll start at the beginning. When last left, I was out of town, visiting the family for Thanksgiving. A few days were spent with my family, then we drove the few hours to visit Josh's family. While we were at his parent's house (the day before Thanksgiving, mind you), I received an email from a friend of ours. He was being promoted and thought that I might be interested in his now-vacant position. Though I very much enjoyed the job that I was in and could not imagine a more pleasant work environment, the pay raise and some of the random benefits were a little too good to not even consider. I emailed him back that I would be interested in tossing my name in the hat. A week and a half later, I was offered the job.
It was difficult for me to quit the job that I had. I tend to be extremely loyal, and I felt like I was betraying them. My boss was wonderful and could not have been sweeter about the whole thing. She wished me the best of luck, said that they would miss me, but that I should absolutely take the new position if it was best for Josh and me.
I started the new position on a Wednesday (Dec 16, the week before Christmas). The following Sunday (Dec 20), I was out shopping for new work clothes (this new position has a much stricter dress code than my previous position) when I received a voice mail from my mom. She didn't say much, but she said that I should call. When I returned her call, my dad answered. My youngest niece, *A*, had died that afternoon from complications due to a heart defect that she was born with. She was 7.
I held myself together long enough to call Josh (he was in the mall with me, but had gone off on his own) and tell him that we needed to leave. When he found me, all I said was her name as I struggled to breathe. He asked if we needed to get me on a flight and I nodded "yes." When we got to the car, he asked me what had happened. I told him that she wasn't able to fight anymore. As understanding sunk in, he nodded and started driving.
When we got home, I called my sister, *D*. My brother-in-law, *E*, answered the phone. I asked to speak to *D*. He told me that she didn't want to talk to anybody. I asked if they needed anything and then told him that I would be there as soon as I could.
As Christmas was five days away, I am shocked that we were able to find me flights out the very next morning (he needed to stay here for a few days until he got permission from his commander to leave). The next morning, Josh dropped me off at the airport two hours early. I stood in line to check in at US Airways for 45 minutes. When I got to the kiosk, I was unable to check in. When I asked the man working behind the counter, he looked at my tickets and said "this flight is a Continental flight." Confused, I asked why my tickets said "US Airways." Apparently my flight was a Continental flight operated by US Airways, so I needed to check in at the Continental desk. Feeling pretty frustrated and trying not to worry, I quickly went to the Continental desk. I stood in line for another 45 minutes there. The clock was ticking, and as my departure time grew closer, I was growing increasingly anxious. It was not easy to hold myself together at that point. Finally, I was next in line. The woman checked in a group of men for my flight, each of whom had carry-ons, and I stepped up. When I handed her my ticket, she said, "I'm sorry, but this flight is now closed. You can no longer check in." I couldn't believe it. I took a shaky breath, and asked her if there was anything that she could do (remember again, this is now four days before Christmas, plus, we had recently had a snow storm that had delayed and canceled many flights the two days prior). I will never forget the kindness of this woman. I told her that I had to get home for a funeral, and please, if there was anything, I wanted it. Cost didn't matter. She looked for an hour and a half (the line was huge, and since she was not checking people in anymore, I am certain that more than one person missed their flight because this woman was trying to help me). In the end, there was nothing.
I sent a text message to my brother-in-law telling him my flight hadn't worked out and I was trying to figure out other options. I called Josh and told him that I needed a ride home. I didn't have a flight. On our way home, we brainstormed some options. We considered the bus. We had purchased tickets for Josh to fly out Wednesday (this is still only Monday morning), and he was really pushing to see if we could transfer those tickets. At this point, I was ready to get in my car and start driving. I could be there by Tuesday evening. Josh convinced me to wait until he could talk to his commander (to see if he would be able to use the Wednesday tickets) and the travel company (to see if he could transfer his tickets) before doing anything else. An hour and a half later (we stopped by base so he could see his commander before going home), Josh came downstairs after speaking with the travel company and told me to go ahead and get in my car. He would support my decision to drive the 1,700 miles if I promised to stop for sleep when I got tired.
So in my car went my bag. In my car went me. I waved goodbye to Josh, and I was on my way. I plugged Memphis into my GPS (the northern routes were still in danger of being covered in snow, and I knew that the fastest way to get there by going south was through Memphis. I figured it would be a good half-way point to stop for some sleep), and I got on the road.
To be continued...