It was 4 a.m. when the call came, but we slept through it. Then it came again at 5:45 a.m. and I let it go to voice mail. The third time the phone rang I ran for it. It was New York calling. My wife’s family was on the line. I knew the words before they spoke them. My mother-in-law had passed away a few hours ago.
Shock, disillusionment, disorientation, regret, frustration. These emotions and more flowed through us as we scrambled to arrange the funeral and flights, and assemble a small army to tend to our children while my wife and I would be away.
Throughout the flight I felt terrible pangs of regret. Had I been too selfish by not championing my wife to visit her mother more often? Should she have red-eyed it more to New York to see her ailing mother, who was a widow and alone in a beautiful assisted living facility? I pondered these thoughts in the dark plane cabin, enveloped within my gnawing guilt. My poor wife, had I added to her mournful state?