Haunted Memories

Haunted Memories

Memories crash unbidden on a tired traveler’s heart and mind. It doesn’t seem to matter that it has been four years, certain places, certain smells, and certain times bring memories that gouge the healing shards of my heart. While one never is over grieving or the loss of a loved one, time does indeed create a distance from crushing pain. The healing, if one wants to call it that, is the acceptance that this is the new normal and that no matter how a person wishes it otherwise, there is no way of undoing or fixing the finality of death. For the most part, I have developed a quiet sense of if not comfort, resignation, as I go about my life. I no longer spend my time wanting what I cannot have, but every once in awhile, I am reminded anew of all that is gone.

Traveling home from wherever I am is the time when I ache. Through the many military moves, home became wherever Phil was. He knew how much I disliked driving especially at night and in unknown areas, thus he took me to the airport and picked me up except the days he was deployed. No matter how long I had been gone, Phil would be standing and waiting to greet me as I deplaned. The quick smile and the kiss and hug that greeted me was something I always looked forward to. Even after 23 years of marriage, we always had things to share and to laugh about. Sometimes he would pick me up after tough times, and he was my steadying rock. Those reunions and rides home from the airports always reconnected us and made things right in our world.

Twenty three years created a lot of homecomings. When I come home, I am confronted with people rushing into family members arms and I realize that I am going home to a quiet dark house. I am going to a building where nobody cares if I had a good run or not, where nobody cares if I might want to get a bite to eat, where my love lies waiting to listen, cheer the victories, and mourn the losses with me. A bad day is magnified when there is nobody at home to listen and be indignant for you. There is no steadying hand or confidant to share one’s hopes, dreams, and disappointments with.

One of my happiest moments was stepping off the plane with Baby Alex. We had a hard time conceiving children and Alex was a validation of our love and commitment. Phil missed the birth of this awaited and longed for child due to Desert Storm. When I stepped off of the plane carrying Alex, Phil began to cry. He wrapped me in his arms and I knew, I just knew that nothing in life would top that moment of solidification of our sense of home. Home was us together and coming home to us was what I needed to make my world complete.

Today, I was sitting and eating between flights. A couple about my age sat down and began talking about their daughter’s summer plans and then they came up with a plan to go on a cruise together. As they researched the iteneraries, they became more and more excited about what lies ahead for them. They laughed often as they discovered how nice it was to be in a place where one’s children are grown and to look forward to rediscovering fun times together. I wanted that and we were there.

Airports rip off the scabs to reveal the scars that sometimes ache beneath the surface. Airports create a sense of longing and a sense of dread. While four years has certainly given me a sense of direction and self, it isn’t true that time heals all wounds. The wounds become hidden so that where I once got on an airplane to meet Phil’s body sobbing uncontrollably much to my children’s chagrin, now I am quietly transported to wanting, to wishing, to an ache. I am not coming home, I am coming to a place where I live. I am coming home to the lonely night that awaits and the four walls that cannot wrap me in warmth and laughter as I share the giddiness over a race well run. I miss that beacon of safety, warmth, security, and most of all love and companionship. I miss my light of home today.

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