Destiny Strikes Again
I don't know what to say about what happened next. I barely remember it. I didn't fly home with Woody. I stayed and drove with my son. Jake didn't seem to want to talk much on the ride. We blared the radio and made fun of some of the vehicles and some of the driving antics of others on the five hour ride home. We didn't talk about Ben or the funeral or where we went from here. I didn't want to push Jake on any of the issues. He was a young man who'd just lost his father.
It didn't take long to put Jake's things in his room once we arrived home. He didn't take much to college with him that he wished to keep after the year. He wasn't a collector like his mother. I would keep almost anything that conjured up memories. I had a distinct fear of getting Alzheimer's Disease like I'd seen happen to so many people I'd known, and I wanted to have things that would help me remember my life if I was afflicted by the disease. But Jake was invincible. He had no fears and no demons in his closet. He was a great young man, and I and my husband were very proud of him. I hoped that he never had to live with demons in the closet.
I hoped that his father dying so young and in a car accident wouldn't put demons in his closet. He'd been fortunate in the modern era that his parents had always been married and together, and he'd always lived in the same house in the same neighborhood, regardless of the type of neighborhood it was. Even though most of our neighbors were nuts, they were the same ones for most of Jake's life and he was used to it. This wasn't Jake's first bout with death. All of his grandparents were gone. He'd fared that well, and I hoped that he would make it through his father's dying with few scars.
I let Jake unpack while I went to the kitchen to make some sandwiches and sit for a moment. I found that I was getting tired since all of this had come to pass. I didn't know if I was depressed or what. I was pretty sure that it was the fact that I couldn't stop thinking. I didn't want to dwell in the past. I didn't want to date or anything, but I wanted to get on with it. I couldn't stop thinking about what I should do next. I had no idea, and I was trying to come up with something that sounded like a solid plan. It wasn't easy. I was the type of person that loved to try just about anything. I'd already done a lot of things in my life. I'd traveled and seen empires fall. I'd flown planes all over creation and chased killers down. I'd had an eventful life already. I even ran away from home to stay with a legally dead gangster on his island. What was it now? There was that Alzheimer's. I couldn't remember what company had bought it.
"I'd say penny for your thoughts, but it's probably more like a dollar now," Jake said as he walked into the kitchen. "Are you okay, mom?"
I hadn't even seen him walk in. "Sure. I'm just tired."
"You should probably sleep," he suggested. "I know you don't sleep when you have things on your mind. Have you asked the doctor about sleep aids for a while?"
"I hate drugs. I'll be fine. Tired is not the end of the world."
"There's nothing you can do about this, you know. I'm here now. You'll be fine. I'll take care of everything."
I wanted to snap at him. His father had never taken care of much. I'd run the house. He'd fixed things, like when the drains leaked or the furnace quit. He also mowed the lawn and shoveled snow. He'd change the oil in the cars if I had a big enough fit. I did the rest. I even bought his underwear. For a second, I was really glad that it hadn't been me, or he would have followed close behind. He would have at the very least lost his mind trying to remember how to take care of a household.
I couldn't snap at my son over that one though. He was trying to help. "I'll be fine. You have your own life to embark on. Don't let me hold you back. Your father wouldn't have wanted that."
Jake rolled his eyes at me. "Are you going to use that one on me any time you want to win for the rest of your life?"
That made me smile. "I was thinking about it."
Jake sat down in his father's old spot at the kitchen table and began to eat the sandwich that I'd left there for him. I'd done it without thinking. I hadn't meant to put him in his father's place. I didn't know if I meant anything by it or not. I'd have to think about that later. I would put it on my list of things to think about.
"Good sandwich. Thanks, mom."
He ate without speaking, just like his father. "Anytime."
I was surprised how much I could think in short periods of time. In the time that it took my son to inhale a sandwich I had pondered a little bit of what I should do with the rest of my life, whether or not I should change Jake's room, whether or not I should sell the house and move to Iceland, what I should watch on TV that night, what JR would be up to on "Dallas", and whether or not I wanted to eat the Ben and Jerry's in the freezer.
"So, what's next?" Jake asked when he was done.
"I suppose I'll clean up the kitchen and watch some TV."
"That's not what I meant. I have met you, mom. You've had that distant look on your face most of the day. You're thinking about what's next. So, what's next?"
"I don't know."
"That's not like you."
"I know I should do something, but what? I can't decide. I still want to write. I don't know if that's too far down the pike though. I guess someone might publish me. There are so many things I want to do, but I should be responsible. I'm an old woman."
"You're not old, mom. You aren't even retired. That's not old." He took my hand. "Why don't you try something original?"
"Like doing whatever you want. Most of my life the most you've done for yourself was a small trip here and there and you bought outrageous shoes. Do something for you. Don't worry about every little thing around this house. Hell, sell the house. Dad wanted to live for a house. You never wanted that. How many times did I hear you tell dad that you hated being tied to a house? Constantly. Live for you. That's what you should do."
He had a point, but I was afraid that I'd forgotten what I wanted. I hadn't wanted to dream for many years, and I'd just forgotten about all my dreams. I wasn't sure I dreamed at all anymore. There were so many things that I'd wanted to do when I was young. Everyone had told me for years that I should feel lucky that I'd already gotten to do so many of them. There were so many left. I was old. I couldn't go off like a kid and do something crazy. I had responsibilities. Most of them had just passed away, but I still had some.
"I wouldn't know where to begin," I told him.
"Look, the funeral will be all done in a few days. Why don't you get away after that? Go wherever you want. If you want, I'll go with you. I'm off for the summer."
I smiled. I loved to spend time with my son. He was the best thing in my life, and always had been. "I'd like that. Where should we go?"
"Don't ask me. This is about you. It's never been about you in my lifetime. I want you to tell me where you want to go and what you want to do and I will do it with you."
"What if you don't like my idea?"
"If it makes you happy, mom, I'll love it."
I cleaned up the kitchen and went into the living room to watch TV. "Dallas" had been on again for years, with the next generation of Ewings fighting for control of Southfork Ranch. I loved the drama, and it seemed even better the second time around, but that night I couldn't concentrate on it. I sat and thought about what I wanted to do. It had been so long since I'd thought about it that I didn't know. I really didn't know. I knew it would come down to me talking to some contacts that I had on the internet before I could come up with an idea.
Jake was exhausted and went to bed early. I could hear him snoring a mile away just like his father. I couldn't sleep, so I went to my office and got on the big computer. If I was going to find something to do with myself after burying my husband, I would need more than a laptop. I needed a keyboard and a mouse. None of that finger tracing crap. I closed the door, put on some headphones so as not to wake Jake, logged into my radio online and started looking around for ideas. I went on Facebook where I kept an account under my old writing penname. I had notifications pending. I clicked to see which one of my few friends that I kept up with on there was trying to contact me. It was a friend request.
Leon. And there was a message. It was his phone number.
Leon was my dear friend that had taught me to fly when I was much younger. He'd helped me get a group of students out of Europe during the first Gulf War when everyone was so scared of terrorist attacks that they closed all the airports on the day we were trying to fly home. He also helped me move to Connecticut. I couldn't believe it. I hadn't heard from him since right about the time I'd met my husband.
I grabbed the phone and dialed while I accepted the friend request. "Hi, I got your message," I said when he answered.
"I was worried about you. Are you okay?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"I heard about Ben. I'm sorry. What can I do?"
"I don't know. You probably have a million things to take care of anyway. I'm fine. I'll be all right. I wish I was more upset. I don't know why I'm not. Is that weird?"
"No. You may be numb. I've seen that before. And, I don't have a million things going on. Just work."
"I never married. I've been married to work. And no, I'm not pining away for anyone. I'm a loner. So, your son is home, yes?"
"What does he want you to do?"
"He thinks we should take a trip. What do you think?"
"I have some time coming. I can be there day after tomorrow. Why don't you both wait for me?"
"What do you have in mind?"
"I've been holding onto something for you for a while now. I didn't think you would want it before, but now things have changed."
"What are you talking about?"
"It's a surprise. I'll be there day after tomorrow. Are you still in that old house you bought there?"
"Yes, how did you know that?"
"You should know better than to ask. I'll see you in a couple days. I can't wait to meet Jake."
He disconnected. I wondered what the hell he was talking about, but then again, I'd wondered that a lot the entire time I'd known Leon. I put my headphones back on and went to surfing the web for a destination for a vacation. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep right at my desk. I wasn't sure but I could swear that I heard "The Good-Bye Girl" playing on the radio right before I nodded off. I hadn't heard that song in almost 30 years.