Today is December 26th--as of 2006, that day will always mark the end of "normal". You see, that was the last day I talked to my (step)dad, the last day he was alive.
December 27th 2006, Bud was killed in a plane crash in Mt. Gilead, OH. Bud had been in my life since I was 14 years old, my mom and he were married for over 20 years. He was there for all the big events in my life and he replaced a father who disappeared from the lives of me and my brothers and sister. He was a gentle giant of a man 6'5" and skiiny as a rail--but he filled the room with his laugh and smile. He looked like a giant amongst us small "Mitchell" kids and my Mom is only 5'2" on a good day. It was quite the sight to see.
I got the call that evening of December 27th--we had just sat down to dinner. The phone rang and I answered--it was my Mom. "Amy, is (DH) home with you?" I could tell something was wrong. She asked again if I had someone home with me. I said yes, DH was here, what's going on? My Mom broke down crying and told me there had been an accident--the plane went down and Bud was gone. The highway patrol was with her at her work and they were taking her home. I needed to come out to the house right away.
All I remeber was falling down onto the couch, the plate in my hand fell onto the table. Dh kept saying, what is wrong, what is wrong? I could barely get the words out of my mouth. I sent DD out of the room. My Mom was a mess, I had to be the one to call my brother's and sister and let them know. How I made those calls, I have no idea--I just went numb. My brother's were in shock--I told them to come home. I didn't reach my sister, but I had to tell her DH--and I was glad that he would be the one to tell her, because Marisa was the closest to Bud and I just could not bear to hear her cry right then.
I then went into a "do something mode"--I had too. I'm the oldest, I'm a Virgo, I had to "fix it", I had to make it right.
That drive to my Mom's was the longest of my life--but we made it in record time. her friends had begun to gather at the house. I walked into the kitchen, saw her face and I lost it--but I pulled myself together so I could get the whole story. I knew my mom was in shock--so I called the Dr. Neighbor to see if he could get her something. Then I got the number for the Coroner and Highway patrol in Mt. Gilead so I could get the story from them.
The details are too horrible and too fresh, I sit here and cry just reliving them in my head. But how does a plane with a pilot with 6000 flight hours and another pilot who was United Airlines retired at the helm just fall out of the sky? The FAA says they must have done something wrong--but the wreckage was too severe to give many clues. This flight was a simple insurance "flight check", but it ended the lives of 2 men and destroyed the lives of many others.
The next few weeks were a blur, but I had things to handle: a funeral to help plan, insurance companies to contact, a family to comfort and trying to keep from losing my mind.
We didn't have a body to bury--the FAA held him for a second autopsy--but we had direct cremation. A giant of a man, placed into one small square urn and little/smaller boxes for each of us kids. I have barely glanced at the Urn in my Mom's room, I cannot bring myself to take my box home--I cannot steel myself from the flood of emotion that overwhelms me when I think about it.
I still miss him every day. DD has Bud's harmonica, she keeps it on a special shelf next to a dove from one of the floral arrangements from the funeral home. Every once in a while, she plays it--Bud was teaching her how before he died--I still stop in my tracks at the sound and my heart breaks again.
The first year was spent "doing" and "asking" and trying to deal with the FAA and find out "why"--and dealing with all of those "firsts" without Bud there. This second year seems to have been harder--the stuff that needs to get "done" is done, there had been nothing to keep us pre-occupied. There are only the memories and the sudden "gut punch" that hits you when you know how great it would have been for Bud to be here--or how much he loved doing things--or what he would have said in that occasion.
We laugh a little bit more than we cry, we show the new babies in the family pictures of Papa and tell them who he is, we look at small planes going overhead and we don't always shudder.
We have a new "normal" now.