Most of you know by now that my grandmother (mom's mom) passed away on January 18th. I'm obviously very happy that I got to visit with her for more than a couple of days over Christmas, and I'm happy that Dan also got up to visit. We talked to her about our plans for the future, and said all the things that you say in these situations. Honestly, I never expected to hear about her passing so soon after we visited. But I'm fairly convinced that she hung on through Christmas and New Years so that everyone could come visit - she had an iron will, after all. So, we made plans to get home to the East Coast for her service. I couldn't imagine not being there. I worked some crazy long days in order to be able to leave again - the halls actually opened again for the spring the day after she passed, so the students and the staff had just barely restarted.
We made plans to leave here on Thursday, with the service being on Friday morning. The plan was for Dan and I to fly to Baltimore, my dad would pick us up, and drive to Johnstown that night and stay in a hotel. Everything was going fine - we got to the airport super early for our flight, and noticed immediately that our flight had been cancelled. Awesome! We were flying through San Diego to Baltimore, which is out of the way, but the other options had us flying through Chicago Midway, which I don't like, especially in the winter. That day, San Diego was experiencing gale force winds, which usually aren't that big of a deal, except this day, the winds were moving north-south. Unlike normal winds, which move east-west. So, San Diego shut down the airport, because planes apparently can't land in gale force crosswinds.
Southwest easily and cheerfully rerouted us through Las Vegas to Pittsburgh, my dad easily and cheerfully readjusted our plans, everything seemed good. We had about 90 minutes before our flight boarded, but as we sit there, more and more flights are being cancelled, as the LAX, Burbank, Albuquerque, and Phoenix airports also shut down due to winds. Our flight starts being delayed. 2 hours later, we're still delayed as they keep telling us that Las Vegas is the only airport that has a north-south runway, so it will remain open, just that all flights are now going to Vegas and they're backlogged. Another hour later, I'm having a breakdown in the airport and telling Dan that I just want to get in a cab and go home. He persuades me to wait because he knows I'll hate myself for not trying my best to get there. And then, of course, our plane boards.
We get to Vegas, the flight isn't bad at all. We arrive at 4:30, only 4 hours late! Our flight to Pittsburgh is supposed to take off at 5:10. At 6:30, my second breakdown is coming on as they announce that we can't leave because we have no crew. The crew who is supposed to be on our flight is coming from Phoenix (which, you may remember, has been sporadically closed all day). I call my dad, and tell him that I won't get into Pittsburgh any earlier than 2 AM, which means we won't get back to Johnstown any earlier than 4 AM. He tells me it just started freezing rain in Johnstown. I call my family at my grandparent's house and tell them I'm throwing in the towel, I just can't get there. We've been travelling now for 10 hours and haven't gotten any further than Vegas. My grandfather tells me not to get on any other planes, it's just not meant to work out. And then, my friends, I do the full on ugly cry in the middle of the packed Las Vegas airport.
After a few deep breaths, Dan asks if I want to go back to Oakland that night and I look at him with a "you're kidding right?" face. I couldn't fathom going to bed that night in the same place I woke up, feeling like I hadn't accomplished a single damn thing. So, I called Franklin instead and asked him to look up hotels for us. The Hooters hotel was $20/night. So off we went (thank GOD we hadn't checked our bags that day). The room, truly, wasn't horrible. The bed was super comfortable and there were Hooters wings available right in the hotel. Dan got dinner, and I crashed. The next day, we weren't sure what we were going to do - stay or leave. When we looked out the window, all the trees were bent in half from the wind, so flying seemed to be out. We looked into driving, and the storm bringing the wind was bringing lots of snow to the mountains between Nevada and California...and the roads over the mountains were closed. So, we ordered room service, explored the new City Center hotels, watched the Bellagio fountains and the lions at MGM, and then went to a Cirque show that night. We bought a candle, went back to our room, and I said all the things to Dan that I'd wanted to say at my grandmother's service. It seemed...appropriate.
The next day, the roads were open and flights were outrageously expensive. Cars were cheap, so we rented a car and drove the 10 hours home. And then I put on PJs and ate whatever I wanted and slept whenever I wanted for the next two days. On Tuesday, I finally rejoined productive society.
Eight days later, Dan's grandmother (dad's mom) passed away on February 3rd. Sometimes life is just ridiculous. Anyway, Dan had also gotten down to see his grandmother over the holidays - he was there for two days, without his parents, so he got some good quality time with her, which he's obviously thankful for. Her service was set for the following Sunday - which was last Sunday - which was right after the first blizzard of doom on the East Coast. Looking at the weather, Dan was less worried about flying but concerned about having to drive on rural North Carolina roads to get to the small town of Mount Airy. He decided not to go, which was really hard for him. I offered the perspective that not going is better than trying to get there and failing (which I have some experience with, no?) but it still doesn't make it easy.
In between all of this, my mom was in the hospital overnight for some neurological concerns - headache, double vision, etc. She's OK, after running gobs of tests, they told her it was probably just the enormous stress she'd been dealing with. This did not do well for my own stress level, as her phone died while she was there and so I called my dad flipping the hell out that I didn't know what was going on.
PS - My dad, also, deserves an award for the past few weeks - he went up to my grandmother's funeral prepared to do whatever I needed, and then stayed to help my family out. Then he listened to my crazy phone calls while my mom was in the hospital, and called around to get information so that I could deal with some crap at work. (Ugh, that was also bad news, but I can't talk about it here). Cheers for dad.
Overall, we're doing OK, just a bit broken. Thank you for all of your cards, emails, phone calls, etc. We know you're there.
Amongst all this, I will say that we did celebrate Dan's birthday in grand style. Post coming soon.