On Thursday morning, we left New Orleans before 6:00 AM - we made it as far as Baton Rouge before D.'s car died. 5 hours later, we learned he needed a new radiator and we rented a car. However, this meant that D.'s poor sister had to wait at the DFW airport for 5 solid hours.
(I still feel incredibly bad about that.)
We did note a tremendous number of Godoplexes on our drive - huuuuuuuuuuge Baptist churches that resembled giant strip malls more than traditional houses of worship. Between Shreveport and Dallas, I lost count of the number of ginormous Godoplexes dotting the landscape of I-20.
By the time we made it into Hobbs, New Mexico (around 2:30 the next morning), we were all terribly exhausted. Needless to say, D.'s sister wasn't much for stopping at Angelo's Barbeque (and I definitely don't blame her for that!), so made a quick fast-food stop and hauled tail across west Texas.
I slept for a few hours and then was roused bright and early to deal with a minor...well, we'll call it an issue...at work.
And that's how I greeted D.'s family in the hotel lobby -- with wet hair, flip-flops, a wild-eyed look on my tired face, and very probably, utter resignation in my posture.
A few hours later we attended funeral services for D.'s beloved grandfather, Harry M. McAdams. I felt so helpless to genuinely comfort anyone there, which is ludicrous when you consider that I had lost all of my grandparents by the time I was 19. And yet, I couldn't come up with anything to say that wasn't trite or overthought. If his family reads this, I hope they know how sad I am that they lost such a remarkable part of their family. That said, at least they knew someone so incredibly special - and the grief they feel is a testament to how much the world will miss him (even those of us who never had the opportunity to meet him).
On Saturday, we drove to nearby Carlsbad, and traipsed through the Caverns, roughly 800 feet down. They were gorgeous and otherworldly and well worth the trip.
D., his brother, his brother's wife and I spent a few hours touring the Caverns and hiking around the King's Palace and Big Room. I take for granted, like most, that the U.S. has so much natural beauty, and walking through the caves was a humbling reminder of just that.
We left New Mexico at 3:45 AM yesterday morning, and drove D.'s sister back to the airport in Dallas-Fort Worth. After a quick stop in Shreveport for lunch, we drove back to New Orleans and greeted our depressed, forlorn collie. This morning, D. drove me to work in the rental car, kissed me and wished me a happy birthday, and drove back to Baton Rouge to recover his battered car.
So, in retrospect -
- I'm so glad I could be there for D. this weekend. He's my favorite person in the world, and there's no way I'd let him trek across the country alone like that, grieving or otherwise.
- I so wish I had had the opportunity to meet his granddad - listening to all of the stories of how he touched the lives of people around him made me sad at such a loss.
- Sleeping in my own bed last night was almost luxurious after catnaps in the car over the past 4 days.
- D.'s family is amazing. Seriously. They're just the nicest people I've ever had the fortune to meet, and that includes D. himself. ;)
- Pizza and "American Gladiator" as a means of celebrating one's birthday? Sure, why not? What else am I going to do...work? Wait, don't answer that. ::grin::