*photo of the hot air balloon that MJ and Dad went on:
We got the news late last week that Mary Jane had taken a turn for the worse. Her body was shutting down and she was in the final stages of her fight with cancer. I struggled with the decision on what to do. I wanted to drive the 900 mile trip to be there for my dad, but knew that she could linger for days or weeks, and I couldn’t leave things behind indefinitely. On the other hand, my Dad was a wreck and he needed someone out there with him.
My sister-in-law made the decision easier when she offered to go out with me. Her generous offer to leave her own family to help Dad with me would turn out to be the biggest blessing of the trip. It is not something I could have done alone.
We set out for New York on Saturday afternoon. The first leg of the trip was easy, an evening of companionable conversation and decent travel conditions. At 1:30 a.m., we checked into a hotel in Toledo, Ohio. As I closed my eyes to sleep, I saw visions of the road before me. Endless miles of interstate rolling on by.
We were jerked out of sleep at six a.m. on Sunday morning by the shrill ring of my cell phone. My heart skipped a beat, and when I saw that the display on my phone read my Dad’s name, I knew this was the phone call we were both dreading and expecting .
“Monica?” He said, his loud voice shaking. He broke down crying and told me she’d just passed away. Dad and her children had sat at her bedside since Thursday, holding her hand and telling them that they loved her. Her sons went home early Sunday morning to get some sleep, and Dad stayed awake with her until 5 a.m. They had matching hospital beds set up next to each other in the rooms so he could lay beside her. He fell asleep holding her hand, and a half an hour later, one of her sons came back to the apartment to check on her and she had passed away. I like to think that she waited until nobody was looking to slip out of this world. She never did like for folks to fuss over her, so this seems just about right.
(to be continued...)
*MJ had always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon. She finally got her wish in September, and the photo above was taken of them on their ride.