Healing From Loss: Coming Home

CAMPINGTRIP1On vacation last week at the Rocky Gap Campgrounds, I was hardly ever alone. But in the afternoons I napped with my dog in the little teardrop camper, looking at the flat-felled seams of the red awning where it met the mesh of the windows. Under the red canopy everything was bathed in warm pink light.

            This was my first camping trip since the magical summers with my children. The camper belonged to my friend, Liz, and we were enjoying a vacation with our dogs, her friends from her former life, and their two granddaughters. For four days we swam and hiked around the lake. We read. They kayaked and bicycled. I watched the dogs and wrote. We played games and cooked home fries, tacos, waffles and blueberry pancakes from scratch. We made s’mores over the fire. We slept, our beds stuffed in the tiny camper, hugging our dogs.

            The two sisters loved the dogs and walked them with leashes dragging in the dirt. We took Suki swimming and laughed as she doggie-paddled in the shallow water. But the most memorable moments for me were washing the dinner dishes with the girls and watching them run across the beach under the light of the full moon. And having people to say good morning and good night to for five days.

           Even my memories of past campouts with my daughter did not cloud over my time with friends.

           We packed up in the rain. Our peaceful sunny days of camping ended abruptly as it started to pour on the last morning. After the frantic gathering and stashing away of bedding, boats, tarps, dogs, and kitchen gear I was drenched but happy. Then Liz drove the five hours back and we transferred my things to my car. By the time I arrived home it was late and I was exhausted. I attacked the laundering and went to gather groceries at Wegmans anyway.

           By nine I finally sat down for my nightly ritual of brushing the pets while watching the news. But the television offered only a silent screen that begged me to “order this channel now or call DIRECTV for more information.” I called and was immediately put on hold.

            “Agent! A-Gent!” I screamed impatiently.

           “Good evening. This is Barbara from Florida. How are you doing this evening?” This was an open invitation I was not expecting and could not resist

           “I just got back from being away and I’m tired and cranky and my TV isn’t working. I have this weird message on the screen telling me I have to order this channel and this is the only channel I ever use. I just want to watch my TV,” I barked at Barbara in Florida, holding back tears. “ My son’s coming home from Afghanistan tomorrow and he’s not going to be happy if there’s no TV. I haven’t had any dinner yet and … why does this have to happen now? I just want to watch my TV. Now.” I could not believe this was coming from me.

           “I’m so sorry you’re having this problem. Well, welcome back home. Let’s see if we can help you. Can you please press the orange select-button?” I pressed the button.

           “Oh.” The television was instantly revived.

           “Well I hope you have a good night without any more problems. I’m so sorry you had to go through all this. Thank you for calling DIRECTV tech services. Is there anything else I can help you with this evening?”

           “No. Thanks,” I say. “Uh … you’ve been perfect. Good night,” I tell Barbara in Florida.

           Relieved and grateful to be back home, I sat back and brushed the cat and then the dog in the soft pink and blue light of the television.

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