The Day After

June 15, 2014

So as I think about tomorrow being Father’s Day I am not mourning the loss of my own dad like most years in the past. Today I am ever so thankful to be able to hold the hand of my own daughter’s dad. Yes, it is raw with road rash and somewhat cooler than normal but it is still attached to his battered body. As I listen to him breathing steadily next to me I am still reflecting on the events of yesterday.

Looking forward to having our guests, MeLeah and Jim, I was busy washing sheets for their stay before the week-long southern ride they were all about to embark on the next morning. I realized after they left to meet my husband for a Welcome Home parade in Monroe, that my worst fears had just come true.

Noticing I had a missed call, I checked my voice mail and heard a somewhat garbled message from someone who sounded vaguely familiar. Something told me to call him back.

“Hi, this is Michele. Who is this? Couldn’t understand your message.”
“It’s Jimmy K.”
“Sorry. Who?”
“Jimmy K”, he says louder and slower this time.
“Oh, hey Jimmy. I thought you said you were Kevin somebody. What’s up?” I quip as I decide I can definitely load more sheets in the washer.
“Terry’s been in a wreck”, he says hurriedly.
Thinking I can fit some more pillow cases I ask again, “What? I can’t hear you well, Jim.”
Clearing his throat he says again, “Terry’s been in a wreck. Happened on Telegraph. On his way to escort that soldier coming home. He’s at Oakwood hospital. Wasn’t his fault….”

When someone tells you that the news of an event can make all the air leave your body, it is exactly like that. I have fallen from horses and had the wind ‘knocked’ out of me but this is something bigger-like I would never be able to draw breath again. It seemed like hours but it is merely seconds when you notice you can breathe again. Your mind goes blank like you are standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people and have forgot your next line. You have no sense of time or space. Your hands begin to shake uncontrollably and when you notice that, you come back to your senses. Things need to be done and you know they won’t get done standing in front of the half-filled washing machine.

As the wife of a rider, I know that this call can come in to me one day. It is my fear each time he starts that beautiful, throaty engine. I so love hearing that same sound coming down our long dirt driveway when I know he is returning home safely. Today would not be that day. The empty barn I so lovingly cleaned just one day earlier now lies empty. It is so surreal. I just expect that the Big Blue Girlfriend will be there and I am so sad she is not.

So on this eve of Father’s Day, I will rejoice in the life I have yet to live with the father of my beautiful child. I will hold that mangled body for as much time as I am allowed. I will love this man with everything I have even though I know he will ride again.

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