Still...nearly FIVE years later I can't fly through Houston without getting physically sick.
When I walk through the airport, the memories just play and play. It doesn't matter that I am rushing through the terminal in a business suit on my way to a meeting. I see a girl, broken, crying, trying to play with her son. I see people around her looking helpless. I taste the despair...the hopelessness. I taste the bile in my throat. It makes me sick. I can feel the desperation in the air.
Even as I walk, I will forever be thankful for my family. They traversed the airport with me on many occasions. While they still do things today to be immensely helpful, they did a lot that in Houston that also plays in my mind. Mom used to have damp washcloths in a Baggie in her purse to put on my neck when I would inevitably feel faint. I had never fainted before the accident...afterward, it was a pretty regular occurrence. She would tell me it would be ok, let me cry and get me to eat or drink something. Other times I was with dad who would take munchkin and walk with him and entertain him. He would sit me down with some water and a hug and he would try his best to coax a smile and his eyes would mist over as I could not control my sobs. One time when we were really delayed he leaned over while I was rocking a sleeping munchkin and he wiped my tears jut as he did when I was a little girl.
My aunt was there often as well. She gave up time with her kids to come to me. She saw a shirt and got it for me. "FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION". It is a NASA shirt and I wore it daily for a really long time. She has a quiet determination about her and I was able to lean on her. She would look at me and say "what are you going to do next?". Helping me to see that there were still things that needed to be done and that even though I felt completely lost, I still had deep recesses in my brain that knew the practicality of what needed to be done. She helped me bring that back to the top.
My sister is the travel guru...she could speed us through with practical knowledge of what to do and where to go. She would hug me and make sure that I felt loved. She is awesome. She organized who was coming to stay with me and when. She dropped everything to help me. She and her husband walked around the house and just took care of stuff that needed to be done...paid bills, answered phones, cleaned, fed munchkin when I actually did manage to fall asleep...whatever needed to be done, she did, without being asked and without any complaint. She and my brothers stood at Robert's casket and made a pact to help me and care for me and they do. She has given numerous vacation days to come to my aide provided travel miles and is ALWAYS there. She is a rock. Have I mentioned that she is awesome!
My brother that is the older one...man every time he went to Houston to help me would have some sort of illness requiring an emergency room visit for his kiddos. Anaphylaxis for a 2 year old, another time was some other sort of something, however his wife was home with the 2 year old who needed to go to the ER and a newborn...in jumped brother in law (see sister paragraph above! to come to her rescue!) ...heck his wife was 8 months pregnant when they drove down after the accident....20 hours in a car with a two year old and being 8 months pregnant...just to come to my aide...SAINT! God Bless him...he still came and his wife still let him. There is a kindness and softness of their souls that is just amazing and I am glad that munchkin has him to look up to.
This is what goes through my mind when I walk through the airport there. Does not matter how tight my connection is...all the flights home go through the same few gates and it hits me like a ton of bricks and a punch in the gut. I know how broken I was, and I know rhat I have come a very long way. I have worked hard to rebuild my life. To be happy again. I think that the despair I felt there was so utterly complete and consuming that my emotion has forever scarred the airport for me.
I cannot imagine how my family felt to see me like that. My child scapes his knee and is better in five minutes and it catches my heart. I can't imagine seeing him so fully crushed and desolate. The fact that they were all there for me and still are just makes me love them even more.