Hard to believe.

It has been eight years since my father died. Sometimes it seems like forever, sometimes I still just can’t believe it. His death, while expected, was a surprise. I had actually spent the day speaking with the palliative care team to arrange hospice care at home. There are lots of things I remember about that day, and just as many I wish I could forget.

The following days were difficult, but not as difficult as they could have been. Because he died so suddenly, we hadn’t planned our transportation around it, as we would have being practical people. My mother, brother and I all had to drive home separately, grieving and stunned, in the dark winding roads of rural NH, in January. I remember calling one of my dearest friends, and giving her the terrible burden, and responsibility, of distracting me for the hour drive home. She somehow was able to keep my mind both occupied and on the road with her light banter, while being the right amount of sympathetic and empathetic.

Thinking back on it tonight, I remember the grief, and the loss, but I also remember the support and love we were shown.

I remember my aunt Laura calling me and telling me she thought I should come home from Turkey earlier than planned. I remembered when my Uncle Patrick and cousin Tess visited my father in the hospital, making time while she was home from college on break, thinking it might be their last visit. They were right.

I remember how my husband got on a plane the next day to be with me, and how my in-laws offered to fly to the US for the funeral. I remember my friend going into my closet in Turkey to pack clothes for Bulent to bring with him for me. I remember how another friend tried to get treats delivered but was thwarted by the remoteness of our home, and instead mailed a whole crate of wine. I remember my brother’s college friend who brought us food in the hospital, and went to pick up Bulent from the airport in Boston at midnight. I remember friends driving hours to the service even though they had to turn around and drive hours back that night. I remember how our community rallied around us, prepared and brought all the food for the reception after the funeral, and cleaned up everything after. I remember all the cards, and notes, and emails. I remember the meals dropped off by friends, and the lingering hugs.

I remember the sadness, but I also remember the love that surrounded us.

Surprise!

I am still trying to catch up on back posts from Kurban Bayramı.   I have been a bit behind and was a little tired last week, but for a great cause.  I flew home to surprise my mother on her birthday…for the weekend.  Yes. The Weekend.  It was epic.

My mother was throwing herself a birthday party, celebrating her new life and new start.   I really wanted to be there.   As an expat you get used to missing the birthdays and other important events like weddings, reunions and births, but you still wish you were there.   I missed my grandmother’s 100th birthday party last month.  I decided this time it was worth it to make the trip.

My brother was my partner in crime.  We arranged the pickup and the meeting.  I was supposed to fly into Logan at 1:30 pm Friday, take the bus to Concord and meet my mother for dinner.  Timing was crucial because I was going to get there Friday afternoon and fly out Sunday afternoon.   But the Airplane Gods were against me.  I almost didn`t make it.

I got to the Esenboğa airport at 3:30 am.  I was in line at 3:45.  The third in line to be exact.  The Lufthansa employees said they would start checking us in at 4 am.  At 5 they were still unable to boot up the computers.  After a change of computer venue, a race and a blood bath to get in line AGAIN, I was checked in.  Then I waited some more.  We were delayed and I almost missed my flight.  Actually EVERY flight was delayed.  By the time I got to Boston Logan I had missed my bus, but I knew it left Logan and went to South Station before it left for NH.  I ran to a taxi and made my bus with 1 minute to spare!

Once on the bus I was finally able to relax.  I was almost there!  My brother picked me up, and we went to the restaurant he had arranged to meet my mother at for her birthday dinner.    When she came in, she was shocked.  She actually didn’t know what to say.  The first thing she said was, “Why are you here?”  Ouch!  But by the time we had dinner and the shock wore off.  She was really surprised, and really happy.

Saturday was surreal, we went out for a jog and then prepped for her party.  I was given a list and sent to the grocery store, it was just like a normal visit.  I loved every minute of it.  Of course the party was a blast.  Old friends, new friends and neighbors came.  Everyone had a great time, especially my mother.  Sunday we met my brother for lunch and then did some shopping and went to the buys station.  I hate leaving, every time it is very difficult.  The worst time is the couple of hours before you get to the bus station or airport, when you can`t pretend you aren`t leaving anymore but the leaving part is not final.  Waiting in the airport is less sad, plus there is wine there.

It was a whirlwind trip and I was certainly tired when I went to work the morning after flying in at midnight the night before.  But it was absolutely worth it.  To be able to celebrate with my mom, to have that time with her was amazing.  Happy birthday mom!  I hope this year is the first of many that are fantastic, full and exciting!