The flights on the monitor had disappeared. I stood dismayed as the bustle of Christmas week at Midway Airport rushed about me. It was my turn to host my husbands kids for Christmas, and I had a list a mile long to accomplish. I marched to an open desk with two Southwest attendants.
“What’s with my flight?”
“Watch your tone,” one of them replied.
“it’s gone,” I said broiling. “Where is it?” I pushed my ticket towards one of them. She typed in my flight number.
“Now sure,” she said.
“That’s not helpful. Is it cancelled?”
“It doesn’t say that. But I can tell you, you better stick around because if you miss it, well…” A sneer curled up on her lips.
“Shit,” flew from my lips.
“We’ll call security if you don’t calm down.”
I sneered back, grabbed my ticket and walked into the throng of people and came to stand letting travelers bump and circle around me. And suddenly everything went silent.
“Rent a car and drive to Peoria,” belted that pesky inner voice I knew well. I’d heard this voice many times before. It had been silent for years, but had caused me to stay for two years on Maui with I’d been laid off in 2002 from Hewlett Packard in the Bay Area. After the lay-off, I’d flown to Maui for a manifesting your vision retreat. Nothing to return to in Palo Alto, I listened to the voice and stayed to become a writer.
“No,” I screamed back at it in my head.
“Rent a car and drive to Peoria.”
Marching forward to the display, I stared. My mother had broken her hip on November 18th, and wasn’t well, and had dementia, and the nurse had weakly agreed to call me if she perceived my mother as dying. I stared at the screen. Christmas. I had packages to wrap and ship to Peoria, menu planning and grocery shopping, decorating to do. I should have added a drive to Peoria to my fun week in Chicago, but I hadn’t.
“Rent a car and drive to Peoria,” the voice boomed.
Suddenly my flight appeared on the monitor. Boarding in half-an-hour. I had time enough to go to the restroom, buy a magazine, snack and water, and grab my A10 place in line.
My vibrating cell on the night stand woke me the next morning. My husband had already left for his board meeting. Birds were chirping in the old-growth California oak outside my window. Dad flashing on the screen.
“You better come home,” he said. “Mom’s not well. She’s gray. I should have called you sooner,” he said in a meek voice.
I salt bolt upright. Gray I knew from my position at the hospice was code for “the end.”