I heard on a Saturday that someone I’ve known my entire life had died. I didn’t know her very well but her whole family is very important to me so I booked a flight for that night to go south. Isabel and I were in South Texas by about 10pm. We stayed at my mom’s house.
Isabel was happy to be finished traveling for the day. She was rewarded with the animated Eric Carle stories on Netflix.
The next day we went to the viewing. My mom helped Isabel get ready. My mom had to go to work so my dad drove us. We sat for a while watching a photo slide show before my dad walked around with a restless Isabel. While watching the photos from my friend’s wedding back in December I thought about how happy I am that Isabel was able to meet the recently departed at that wedding.
Some of my first coherent words to the deceased were “You’re fat!” when I was little. I was an observant child and “fat” was one of the first words we learned in kindergarten. I’ve been mortified by the memory for a long time. I felt silly doing it but I made sure to whisper to her before I left that I was sorry I called her fat.
I decided that it would be best for us to head back to my dad’s house after the viewing. I didn’t think Isabel would sit through a full Catholic rosary and I didn’t want to disrespect the family by trying to make it happen. It was Super Bowl weekend so we ended up watching football and eating the rest of the afternoon. I think Isabel had the most fun because she had no idea how disappointingly blah the game was. She also got to play with some full-size footballs for the first time.
My dad had a few friends over and Isabel wore herself out making sure they knew how cute she could be when she plays.
This was two weeks after my ACL surgery so I ended up sitting with my leg propped up as much as I could while everyone else kept Isabel entertained.
The funeral mass and burial were the next day. Isabel thought both were fun. I’m glad I had other people there with me to walk around with her/chase her when I couldn’t. Isabel also got to meet a bunch of people that hadn’t even seen me since I was Isabel’s age. (Nothing like a funeral to bring people together.) At the cemetery I learned of a number of other deaths, including the death of a neighbor who lived across the street from me while I was growing up. He used to give me extra potatoes, bread, and chocolate milk at the school cafeteria because I didn’t eat meat.
Isabel fell asleep on the way back from the burial. My dad put his head down next to hers in an effort to get his mind off of my mother’s driving. She’s either just really, really bad at driving or she is just one of those people who doesn’t give a flying fuck that they are essentially operating 0.75 tons of crush-able metal.
Our flight out on Tuesday morning was cancelled and our later flight was delayed. Luckily for hop-along me, there was a play area near our gate. Isabel and another little girl kept climbing around together. In this picture (above) it looks like they’re pushing each other but they’re not. They kept helping each other get up and down, over and over again. Isabel stopped by that little girl’s seat on our way off the plane in Houston to say goodbye.
The circumstances for this visit home were tragic but I’m grateful for the time Isabel got to spend with family and for the experiences she had.