February 19, 2018

DL35 to Seattle

It happened late in the flight. The denouement of a story is the part where the main action ends. That should have occurred the evening Danielle and I had dinner together. That was a perfect denouement to this trip. But it didn’t turn out that way. There was more.

I was on a flight I shouldn’t have had to be on. Had the equipment not been changed to a smaller plane the day before, I would have been home already. Instead, I’m flying home a day late. But when I noticed that flight attendant, whom I hadn’t seen before until that last two hours of the flight, I knew in an instant why I was on this one.

Carolyn, flight attendant

Carolyn, flight attendant

She was passing down the far aisle, when I caught sight of her. In her profile, there was not just a vague resemblance, or a slight look alike; it was her. Carolyn. The same thick, blonde ponytail, the glasses, the nose, the chin, the apple cheeks. My breath caught. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I had to quickly cue up The Zookeeper’s Wife (a movie about the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII) in order to provide my seatmates with a more reasonable explanation for the tears streaming down my face. They weren’t tears of sadness, either, but of joy, of recognition.

Of course, when the attendant turned full face toward me, I could see it was a different face altogether. But that moment in profile had done its job. “I’m right here, sweetie, just as we always said we would be. Change a couple of values on those quarks and musons of yours, and you could be here next to me, too. Just like you said. I know it seems like forever until we are together again, but trust me, from where I’m sitting, it’s more like minutes if not seconds. So keep riding your trains, my adorable boy. We will be together again. Always and forever.

Angels, from Carolyn's photo archives

Angels, from Carolyn’s photo archives

I’d felt all along that Carolyn had been with me throughout this trip, guiding it at times, enjoying it along with me at others. There’s no doubt it was her hand that gently pushed Danielle and I until we were both seated next to each other. I think it was her shoulders as well that helped make Claude a little lighter by the end of the trip. Carolyn could bless these two weeks, because she’d already known the outcome and that the outcome would be good.

Bestowing upon me in that attendant’s profile, a physical proof of her presence beside me had become, over these past days, no longer necessary. I’d already been certain of the continuing existence of Carolyn’s consciousness in that next realm that awaits all of us. Carolyn showed me anyway, as an affirmation of what we both had long since come to believe as true.

Now, that’s what I call a denouement. And transcendence and transformation, too.

I arrived home riding a wave of euphoria that was as much due to the experiences of the last two weeks, as it was profound jet lag. I had to find something mindless to do to keep my own mind from rocketing away from me. I found it in my DVR archive of The Three Stooges. The first one I opened up was a Shemp, and it reminded me I had to go through and clean out all the Shemps that had accumulated. The next one was, happily, a Curly. In this one, the boys…well, you know the rest. They’re all the same, after all.

But the person watching the Stooges was no longer the same person who’d occupied the house prior to leaving for France. There is a new foundation to replace the one lost after Carolyn passed. There is renewed purpose and a clear path ahead for this new Reid to live the rest of his life. Longevity may still not be a priority, but there is a strong will to fill whatever is left of my years here with substance and meaning. The blog my daughter is helping me launch will not be about travel, but about widowhood, and how to remain with the love of your life even after she’s gone. I want the blog to become a source of comfort and insight for anyone experiencing what I continue to experience in losing Carolyn to this world. Only to this world, though.

Because I know as truly as I know anything that Carolyn has not gone anywhere. She is still right by my side, where she will remain. And ready to bonk my head and poke my eyes like Moe, should I get out of line. 


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