Today I randomly clicked on a set of pictures dated May 11 - June 13, 2010, and oddly, didn't recognize a single one. I KNOW the contents of my iPhoto like I know my wardrobe, like I know the contents of my purse, like I know my jewelry. I am intimately familiar with every single picture, or so I thought. I have sorted them and scrolled through them countless times, so for a whole set of them to be completely unrecognizable was a pretty big mystery. I recognized the place, but the events and activities definitely happened without me.
And then I remembered....
In May 2010, we were living in Mendon, but the Scout Master had already started his new job with Infinity, so arrangements were underway to sell our home and move to Dallas. My dad and I had talked about selling his home in Livingston, TX and moving him somewhere closer to where we would be, but at that point, we still weren't sure where that was, and my dad was hesitant to get things in order to put his home on the market. After years of accumulation and life in a place, it's difficult to think about the words "declutter" and "update."
Late in the afternoon on Saturday, May 15th, while we were at the Children's Museum in SLC with cousins, I received several phone calls that my dad had had a massive stroke. He had been in his kitchen, mopping the floor, and preparing food for some friends who were coming by later in the afternoon for lunch. The friends found him and immediately called me. The next day was Sunday. Monday morning, I got on a plane to DFW. I don't recall all the details of getting on that plane, being picked up at DFW and driven across town to Love Field by a sweet friend, and then retrieving the Scout Master's company car and driving it 4 hours to HOU. I don't know who coordinated all of that or how I managed to walk through each of the steps necessary to get there, but I did eventually make it. I was unfamiliar with the Jeep, unfamiliar with the drive from Dallas to HOU, it was pouring, and I was headed to a place that I didn't want to be. The Scout Master was unavailable and I was exhausted and scared to death about what would be waiting for me when I finally arrived. It was late when I got closer to HOU, and very dark. I couldn't imagine driving to my dad's house and walking into it knowing that it would be completely empty, so I didn't. I kept driving right past Livingston and straight to a hotel near the hospital. I don't think I slept at all that night. Three days after my dad had had the stroke, I walked into that hospital room. He passed away ten days later.
The rest of the month that I spent in Livingston was a blur. The Scout Master drove out with the kids (except for Flowering Buttercup who wanted to finish the end of her 7th grade year with her friends in Mendon before we moved.) And I spent every day until mid-June, throwing away and shredding piles of papers that had accumulated in the office as I hunted and hunted and hunted for the important ones (like wills, titles to vehicles, marriage certificates, adoption papers, etc.) I wrote an obituary, made cremation arrangements, talked to countless insurance companies, ordered death certificates, cancelled subscriptions, cancelled doctor's appointments, cancelled credit cards, and contacted a real estate agent. In the two weeks that we were there, we sold my dad's van, cleaned out his entire house and donated nearly everything to the local ward and charities in the area. I sent things to my siblings that I thought they might want. I kept a few things that had sentimental meaning to me. And I tried to remember how to breathe.
And while I did all of that, I had no idea how my kids and my husband spent those days. I recall their presence, and I know the Scout Master helped a ton with all of that hauling and throwing away and taking things apart and putting them back together. But honestly, I barely remember them being there. Until I found these pictures today...
I don't have fond memories of that month. It was a turning point in my life in so many ways. But I'm so grateful that my wonderful, thoughtful, protective, adventurous husband gave my children an entirely different experience. While I was caught up in the emotion of sifting through memories and trash, my children were exploring and fishing.
While I watched strangers come into the house and load all of my parents' belongings into a trailer and haul them away, my children were hunting for lizards and snakes.