Sunday, January 07, 2007

Coming/Going Home

Highway NM 3
Although I love snow, five days homebound was just about too much for me. I drove on scary roads when I shouldn't have, plowed through snow almost waist deep making trails from house to house in the neighborhood, then just had enough. More snow was in the forecast, and I didn't want to be there when it hit.

We packed up the car and left out from Pecos about noon on the 3rd, heading south. I chose to take NM3, because my favorite potter, Polly Whitcomb, has her studio out there. It wasn't a wise choice. The temperatures had not risen enough to melt the snow, and although the highway had been plowed well, the wind had kicked up blowing snow across the road in blinding whiteness, piling up in foot high drifts across the highway. It's a desolate road anyway, and had we gotten stuck there it would have been a long time until someone found us.

I plowed through, white knuckled, and we came out the other side successfully. Crossing over I40, we kept on NM3, and emerged out onto a vast white plain, no trees, just rolling sparkling white. We didn't warm up until we started seeing grass. We kept on south, driving through country populated only with pump jacks and drilling rigs, until we finally arrived at Big Bend National Park. We were delighted to discover that we had driven into Tshirt weather!

The Rio Grande river, Mexico on the left, Texas on the right.

The park is magnificent and rugged. Jagged mountain peaks of the Chisos mountains, fields of white volcanic ash, and lava rocks competed for our attention. We didn't want to leave the park, and the only lodge was full, so we parked in a primitive camping spot, and slept in the car. The full moon lit up the night, and occotillo and spiny cactus were silhouetted against the bright sky. We woke to a magnificent desert sunrise, and spent another full day at the park.

Heading back north towards Dallas, we saw herds of antelope and deer, then more oilfields. Pulled into a hotel parking lot, and my phone rang. We had been out of cell phone range for days. I noticed that I had five new messages, then that the call was from my sister's house. It was the call I didn't want to get. My sister passed away at 10:00 am on Friday. It was a relief to know that she was no longer suffering, but I'm terribly sad when I think of what a year it was for her after the diagnosis of cancer November 2005.

Today is my birthday, and that makes me sad, too. I feel guilty having a birthday when my sister just died.


Karen Jacobs said...

My condolences. You spent quality time with your sister, have no regrets. Who needs birthdays anyway? Do something nice for yourself sometime when you really need it, not because the calendar says you should. KJ

Annette Bush said...

It was a difficult year for BOTH of you, but it's not easy to lose a sister.
Visitation at the funeral home for my DH was on my 55th birthday. Over time, it has become a day to celebrate our lives together and not at all a sad connection.
Give yourself some time. AAB

Bee Skelton said...

Robin I am so very sorry for your loss. Big hug to you and all your family.

Joanie Gagnon San Chirico said...

My thoughts are with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I just had to return here to comment on the beautiful word pictures you've written about the drive home. Yummy and scary at the same time. Thanks

emily dg said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this...

When I lost family and friends over the years poetry eased me grief. One poem that esp. helped me is by Pablo Neruda:

Dead Woman
If suddenly you do not exist,
if suddenly you no longer live,
I shall live on.

I do not dare,
I do not dare to write it,
if you die.

I shall live on.

For where a man has no voice,
there, my voice.

Where blacks are beaten,
I cannot be dead.
When my brothers go to prison
I shall go with them.

When victory,
not my victory,
but the great victory comes,
even though I am mute I must speak;
I shall see it come even
though I am blind.

No, forgive me.
If you no longer live,
if you, beloved, my love,
if you have died,
all the leaves will fall in my breast,
it will rain on my soul night and day,
the snow will burn my heart,
I shall walk with frost and fire and death and snow,
my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping, but
I shall stay alive,
because above all things
you wanted me indomitable,
and, my love, because you know that I am not only a man
but all mankind.