I’m packed and ready, off to surprise my friend Kelly on her 40th birthday. I have no children, no schedule, one overnight bag and limitless energy. She’s 40 today and we will celebrate. Her husband and I are emailing our plans, his emails always include the phrase, “I am so excited”.
I’m up early at 6am because I want to have a lovely morning, I want to get my kids to camp and prepare everyone for my quick trip. I’m leaving nothing to chance. It’s ten AM and I sit down the dark and dirty airport bar with my breakfast burrito and diet coke, I glance at my iPhone and see that Larry has called. He’s so excited about this. I smile, thinking, “gosh, that man loves his wife”.
Instead there’s a very calm message. Too calm, measured even, “Hi Jess, it’s Kelly, I don’t have all the details but Kasey is in the hospital on life support. I heard you’re on your way out. I don’t know what you want to do.”
Stunned. I sit in silence and decide what this means. I cannot absorb a single bit of the data offered to me. Kasey is in his twenties. Kasey is a newlywed. In my mind, Kasey is the 13 year old at our college graduation, he’s the baby. Babies don’t end up on life support.
Slowly gathering my strength and with incredible denial I touch the screen and call Kelly back. I cannot recognize anyone’s voice, they’re all shrill. Larry is sobbing, Kelly is screaming and it’s eerie that I don’t hear a child in the background.
Kasey has died.
They’re going to Iowa, I’m coming to Colorado. I have no idea what it is I’m supposed to do but I can’t turn around and go home now. Maybe I’ll give her a hug as they’re pulling out of the driveway to bury her brother on the family farm. Perhaps they’ll stay a day, although I hope they don’t. Is today her actual birthday? Please lord let it not be today.
The kids, who is watching the kids? What do you tell them? There are more questions than answers. I haven’t a clue how Kasey died or if my legs will support my own weight when this plane finally lands.
I want desperately to scream, “shut the fuck up” at the mother in front of me who keeps hushing her 3 year old twins. Let them talk. Pray to all that is holy that you’ll never have to bury one of them.
This is one fucktastic plane ride.
I could stay at Kelly and Larry’s house when they leave. I could knock on Emily and Brian’s door which is very close to the airport. With Emily’s recent loss I’m unsure if it’s all just too much for me, for her, for everyone. So I’m renting a car and I’ll likely end up in Pueblo, with the potters. I’ll slip unnoticed into the dusty apartment that looks out onto the train tracks, nestled at the foothills of the Great Rocky Mountains. I’ll hear the hiss and roar of the kiln as they fire their pots and glass and by then, I do believe I’ll know what hideous monster took Kasey from us all.