Monday, December 14, 2009

Rest in peace, my friend


I am blogging today from my old home town of Milpitas, California, where I am staying on Hilton points at the Hampton Inn.

Yesterday was a grueling day. Louise dropped me off at FLL at 5:30am. Thankfully, having arrived well in time for my 7am flight, I was able to swap my center seat for a window, albeit in the last row, which does not recline. But at least I was able to lean up against the window and get another hour or so of shut-eye. Other than being full to the last seat, the flight to Phoenix was uneventful.

Unfortunately, SFO was apparently socked in with fog all morning, and so my connection was held on the ground in Phoenix for another hour. I lucked out on a seat again, as the agent in FLL was able to swap my center on this flight for an aisle seat behind the first-class partition, which got me off the plane earlier. Still, by the time my mother-in-law got me to my friend Eric's house in the hills, where I picked up the car I am borrowing for the visit, and I made my way to Milpitas, it was past 3pm, a total of over 13 hours since I left Odyssey in the morning.

When I arrived at the house, my friend Joe was already past consciousness and nearly comatose. Still, I sat and talked to him for several minutes, and I think (perhaps wishfully so) that he at least knew I was in the room, as his breathing changed and his eyes moved somewhat. Mostly, I spent the next three or four hours talking with his family. It was his wife's birthday, and we had cake and ice cream and sang Happy Birthday as cheerfully as we could. I stopped back in his room for a few minutes before heading to my hotel to crash.

Early this morning Joe passed away peacefully in his sleep. I am unspeakably sad right now, and it has been a rough morning. His family wanted to be left undisturbed for the day, although I offered whatever help I could provide. We will get together this evening over dinner. In the meantime, I have been staying in my hotel room, trying to catch up on the rest of my life.

The Hampton has free WiFi, and I took advantage of the connectivity to book some shore excursions for our cruise next week; on-line booking is only open another day or so, and it took my mind away from Milpitas. I booked a two-tank dive off Turneffe Atoll in Belize, and another two-tank dive on Palancar Reef off Cozumel. In between we are in Costa Maya, and I wanted to book the zip-line tour, but it is sold out. We'll probably just chill.

The Hampton also has a hot breakfast, and I went down twice, since I am still on east coast time. So I got breakfast and lunch out of it, if you will. It's actually quite a pleasant hotel. There is also a free internet workstation in the lobby with a printer attached, so I was able to print boarding passes for tomorrow, although, oddly, this blog is blocked on the lobby computer by Windows Parental Controls. I guess I need to quit with the colorful language...

The latest checkout I could get was 2pm, which is coming up in just a few minutes. I'll head out to run a few errands to bide my time until dinner; the car I am borrowing needs washer fluid, and I could use a couple of things at Fry's. If I have time, I will swing by our rental condo just to check on things. After dinner, I will head up to Woodside to return Eric's car (thanks, Eric!); he's schlepping me to the airport in the morning, so I will just spend tonight at his place. Tomorrow will be another full day of travel, I don't get back to Fort Lauderdale until after dinner time.

I am very thankful that I was able to get here in time to say goodbye to Joe. I wish I had been able to be here a day sooner, when he was still conscious. And as hard as it is to sit here in my hotel and just be with myself and my feelings, it brought closure for me to be with the family last night. I am actually looking forward to dinner, where I think pleasant memories will emerge through the grief.

5 comments:

  1. I'm sure you will never regret making the effort you did to get back for your friend and his family. We're entering the phase of our life where if we are lucky we get to watch our friends die. I expect the older we get the less it will seem like a good trade off. Marilyn's 102 year old aunt died last summer - for her the worst part of living that long was the incredible lonliness at the end. Travel safe and wave at us as you go by - we're just down the road at Morgan Hill.

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  2. All of us who follow your odyssey wish your friends family peace. All of us have lost loved ones and your are lucky to say goodbye.

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  3. Please accept my condolences.

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  4. Those excursions can be incredibly pricey. If you'd like to cancel, we'd be happy taking you to cenotes and Tulum and whatever else you're interested in. We have a large van and live right across the channel from Cozumel.

    Take care and my thoughts are with you.

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  5. @Kathy: Thanks for the kind offer. The dive trip in Cozumel is actually quite reasonably priced; we'd done a resort dive there the last time we passed through, and are looking forward to diving again this time around.

    The dive trip will have us out until 1pm or so, and I think all aboard is around 4, so that does not really leave enough time, I think, to get together. Although you might catch us racing from store to store trying to find a couple of cheap bottles of Orendain Crema de Almendrado, a concoction unavailable here in the states.

    You guys seem pretty well entrenched there, though, and I know it is only a matter of time before we get down your way in the bus. At which time we promise to let you show us the sights.

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