We were parked haphazardly in a gravel driveway.
If I rolled down the windows and listened hard enough I could hear the faint notes coming from Mrs. Duncan's piano studio. My oldest son was playing.
The Nissan quest transformed into a rocket. StinkBug pushing buttons, adjusting dials and barking out orders. We were just about to land on the moon when my cell phone rang.
Seeing the number and bracing myself.
It would not be good news.
They don't call at 5:30 on a Thursday night to talk.
Taking a deep breath and stepping out of my van. Trying to to say a casual hello despite a huge lump in my throat.
Cars whizzing by on the two lane highway behind me. StinkBug pounding on the window yelling for me to get back in the rocket. We hadn't landed yet. I wasn't wearing my space suit.
He tried to sound casual. To downplay the situation. That's what my parents do. It's what they have always done.
She'd had a cold for a few days and he finally convinced her to go to the walk in clinic. My mom is nothing if not stubborn.
It hadn't been easy to get her there. She couldn't breathe without her oxygen so he loaded up her tank. I can picture Mom trying to give detailed instructions on how he should do it.
Even though she couldn't breathe on her own she had to control something.
Dad putting it down in the hallway just as he got to the garage door. Probably once more before loading it into the back passenger seat of their blue Ford Escape.
I'd helped load it when they were here in August. They'd driven more than fourteen hundred miles to our new home. He couldn't believe how effortless I made it look. I had joked that I'd been lifting weights and I was thirty years younger than he. Truth is, it was heavy but a seventy-two year old man shouldn't have to carry his wife's oxygen tank.
I didn't bother to ask why they didn't call an ambulance. They don't do that kind of thing. They wouldn't want to be a burden.
When my parents arrived at the clinic they were told to go directly to the ER. The hospital would be expecting them.
**This post was originally published in February 2013. Today is my mom's seventy-forth birthday. She died on January 20, 2014 after nearly a month of hospice care. I find her absence deafening and my grief paralyzing. I wanted desperately to write something for today but I am just trying to survive it.