I’m almost giddy as I drive to the Manchester airport to pick up Delphine. She’s only been gone a week but it feels like a lifetime. Caring for our menagerie solo has weighed heavily on me – not to mention missing dozens of smaller things that somehow magically get done when she’s around. With Delphine gone, swapping nightly backrubs is on hold and there’s no one to hear the day’s triumphs and tragedies.
Of course most of all I want to share her sorrow over her mom’s passing. Delphine had the support of her brother and two sisters for the funeral in Albuquerque – but it just wasn’t practical to leave our animals unattended on such short notice and so I stayed behind.
I arrive at the airport a few minutes before her flight is scheduled to land. There are signs saying parked cars will be ticketed. I see an area marked Cellphone Lot and pull in. Fifteen minutes later she calls and I try to find the terminal again through a maze of exit ramps and side roads.
I approach the Southwest sign and see her standing at the curb, suitcases ready to go. She sees me and waves. This powerful sense of well-being sweeps over me – Delphine is back and all is right with the world. Well, our world anyhow. The outside world has yet to find its Delphine and is on its own.
We head back to Greenville, back to our little homestead. I tell Delphine how much the critters missed her, how they clung to my side worried that I might be the next to go. I tell her how many eggs I’ve collected, about a night leaping around naked in the snow offering our neighbors cookies, and the pellet stove failing. I tell her how much I’ve missed her.
Delphine tells me about her mom’s funeral, people she hasn’t seen in years, how her brother Doug is managing the details – disposing of furniture, car, filing this piece of paperwork and that. Doug is a good guy, the kind of guy you can depend on. He’s retired now. None of us understands why some clever gal over the last thirty or forty years hadn’t snatched him up.
Delphine looks tired. Her mom’s passing seems to be as much of an ordeal for her as my mom’s passing was for me a few years ago. It’s a new era for her. While her mom was alive Delphine felt connected to her past – to Albuquerque, to her childhood friends, to her family growing up. That chapter has now closed. She says with emotion, “I’ll probably have no reason to ever go back there again.” I feel her loss.
We arrive home. I back my car up to take a running start at the two feet of snow a plow truck has dumped at the end of our driveway. I break through the pile on my second try and pull up the driveway. The dogs hear the commotion and start barking. I tell Delphine to go ahead while I grab the suitcases.
She opens the door and is greeted by two leaping, barking doggies who are so excited to see her they pee on the floor. I know how they feel. I hear, “Chase! Kendal! It’s okay! I’m home! I’m home!” If I didn’t have two suitcases in my hands I’d probably be right there alongside the dogs jumping and peeing.
Delphine coming home means I don’t have to worry about having forgotten some critical detail like not feeding the goats. My God – the goats! A week with no feed. Oh, that’s right. We don’t have goats yet. That’s a project for next spring.
Delphine is home again and all’s right with our world. Just ask the chickens. Or me.