Yesterday, my mother’s health took a marked turn for the worse, accompanied by a dear family friend’s recommendation that I expedite my trip east. The family friend helped out when my sister passed away in 2003, and also when my father died in 2019. When she makes a recommendation, I listen. We moved my flight up a week.
It was only four months back that I nearly had a panic attack traveling home alone from Houston after the birth of our grandson.
The prospect of voluntarily putting myself in a similar situation initially made me extremely nervous; these days, I was more terrified of flying in the back of a safe, relatively comfortable commercial airliner than preparing for my first combat sortie during Operation Desert Storm.
I’ve thought a lot about my last solo flight, dissecting my decisions and interpretations with the same merciless dispassion as that of a young naval aviator. Despite significant differences, they shared a similar central character: death. The stark difference in context was bridged by the dire urgency of both flights.
The coming weeks promise much empty time, punctuated by a little sadness, perhaps some soulful crying. One thing is certain: the loud laughter of Hunt humor’s off color irreverence will fill the house. My family has always laughed ferociously at life’s inconsistencies without reservation or apology.
Sharing my writing is my solace, bringing me a temporary calm. Readers: thank you, I benefit from you more than you will ever know.
As an aside, my fear of flying solo was for naught. Taking on challenges outside one’s comfort zone is the only way to know for sure that you are past them, or if matters have gotten worse. Despite just ninety minutes of sleep last night, I sit here at the back of a crowded airliner, thinking of jokes to tell my mother, smiling. Reflecting on my recent emphasis on a comeback, maybe it was staring me right in the gaunt face, as I plan my next, happier trip.