In June 2012, I waited anxiously at the airport to meet the man I’d been talking to online. It was late at night and I remember shaking with anticipation. I distinctly remember seeing him across the airport while we were on the phone looking for one another. I saw him first. I remember wrapping him up in a hug, unbelieving that he was here in the flesh and that I could touch him instead of see him on a screen. When we decided that he would stay, I never imagined I’d have to see him board a plane without me and travel the 3,000 miles back to Cali where he came from.
Then he got the phone call that would forever break his heart, the call that no one ever wants to receive. On Saturday, Jerry lost his father very unexpectedly. My heart pounded as his face turned to shock and we both crumpled into tears. “What?” he said, disbelieving. The exact same thing I said last July when I got the call about my Papa. You don’t ever want to believe at first, still imagine your loved one will walk in the room one day like they were never, ever gone. But it’s real and it hurts, and since it’s not my story to tell, I will only say this: I never got to meet the man who raised my husband, but Jerry spoke so fondly of him over the years. He was funny, loved to joke around, and was a United States Army veteran who hailed from Mexico. I regret that Caleb will never get the chance to know his grandfather on his dad’s side, but have assured Jerry that he WILL know all about him from stories and pictures and memories that Jerry has and that I hope he will share with our boy. In fact, Caleb’s middle name is Manuel… after his grandfather.
When Jerry first thought about coming here, his father was incredibly supportive of the idea. While others were not so happy about it, he encouraged him to come and meet me and was hopeful that job opportunities would be better here. He was right. He never once had a bad thing to say about me or our lives together, and always made sure to ask Jerry about me, our son, his job, our house. He wanted Jerry to be happy and have opportunities; if that meant coming to New York, then so be it. He was always happy for Jerry and never discouraged him from being here. Though I never got to know him aside from a few brief phone calls and stories I’ve heard, I will always be grateful to him for supporting Jerry in his decision to move and for accepting me without question because Jerry loves me and that’s all that mattered. I will always smile when I remember hearing him on the phone, exclaiming: “Jerry! It’s Daddy!” We smiled and laughed and I know Jerry will always be able to hear that in his mind.
Though Caleb and I didn’t get to meet him, I’m grateful that Jerry will have the opportunity to pay his respects and say his goodbyes. On Saturday, he will be flying back to California for the first time since moving here. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly anxious about the long flights, long drives, and being alone for four nights, just Caleb and me without our main guy. My stomach has been in knots and my stress levels have been through the roof knowing that I’ll have to see my husband board a plane without me and I’m pretty sure I’ll cry. I know it’s just my anxiety talking and selfish of me to want him to stay, so I’ll say “see ya soon,” and encourage him to do what I know he needs to do.
It’ll be hard to see my husband leave for a bit, but much harder for him to say this unexpected good bye to the man who made him. My heart is broken seeing someone I love mourning someone THEY love, and I know it won’t be easy.
Though I never thought I’d have another airport meeting with the man I love, life throws curveballs and so I will.
I’ll be waiting for him with open arms when he comes back home again.