It’s December twentieth and I’ve got my green Toyota 4Runner loaded up with my things for a week-long stay in Weslaco. From where I live in Waco it’s about a seven hour drive if traffic is favorable. It was going to be a long day of traveling, I just knew it. At least I had plenty of music to listen to along the way. I left my house at eight in the morning, putting me at my destination at about three in the afternoon. That’s if I don’t stop. But, I would be stopping for fuel, potty breaks and food. There was no way I could just push through the whole distance.
Weslaco is a small town on the Texas and Mexico border, but it’s on the US side. The only reason I’m making this trip is because my kids asked me to. They had to go to their biological dad and stepmom’s house for Christmas this year. Which, in other years it was fine because I had my husband to keep me company. This year though I would be alone after the kids had left.
You see a little over a year ago my husband was in a really bad car accident that ended his life. Taking him away from me and my kids after having him for eight years. I had known my husband for most of my life and started dating him while I was pregnant with my daughter. We got married a few months after she was born.
Last Christmas, I had my kids to keep me company and we made the best of it. This year though my kids, Archer and Olivia, have asked me to visit some friends so I’m not alone for the holidays. Archer is my ten year old son. He’s a sweet little guy that tends to think of others more than himself. He has gray eyes and dirty blond hair with lovable chubby cheeks. Olivia, my eight year old daughter, is too wise for her age. Her dark blue eyes and dark brown hair remind me of myself.
I don’t speak with any of my family anymore due to bad blood, so good friends were what I needed right now. Sometimes the family you're born into isn’t the family you're supposed to have. I’m a firm believer that some people just need to make their own family.
This trip will make me happy because it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen Nancy and her husband. I met her at a training seminar for counselors that had volunteered for several national guard units in our state. There were five of us in the training that became friends quickly and have stayed in touch over the years. All five of us had one thing in common, we were all counselors for our husband's military units. You see not everyone that volunteers has a spouse in a unit they just want to help the soldiers out.
My husband was a great soldier and he enjoyed the military life a lot. Hell, I enjoyed it too. He was always on activation orders that kept him at the unit even when the others were gone. He was happy in his career and I was happy when I started helping the unit out. I made so many great friends within our military unit. Really they all became family.
After my husband left the military we moved to Waco for him to work as an Architect at a large company. He had an engineer's mind that made me jealous most days. He was good at whatever he wanted to do. If he set his mind on it then it would happen. He was just that type of person.
While I think about what life was like before, I get a text message from my friend Rose. She will be meeting me for lunch today at my halfway point of this trip in San Antonio. She was one of the ladies I met at the military counselor seminar. I grab my phone from its dock in my vehicle and open my messages to see what’s up.
“What time will you be here,” she asks.
“I should be there at about eleven thirty ish. Where would you like to meet?”
“Let’s meet at a restaurant called Cured at 306 Pearl Parkway,” she tells me.
“Sounds great. See you soon.”
I place my phone back on its dock and tap on the address in my texts and my GPS picks it up. I’m then routed to the location and start singing along with the music on the radio. I listen to all kinds of music and if you ever press shuffle on my playlist there's no telling what you might get. I have everything from country, to rap, to hip hop, heavy metal to rock. Rock is kinda my favorite though.
It doesn’t take long and I’m in San Antonio traffic headed for my lunch destination. After battling the traffic and finding the restaurant, I quickly park. I see Rose standing at the entrance waiting on me. I quickly jump out of the vehicle and make my way over to her. As soon as she sees me she wraps me up in a tight hug.
“Hey, sweetie. How are you doing,” she asks.
“I’m doing alright. Everyday is a new day isn’t it,” I reply with a small smile.
“That it is,” she says as she opens the door to Cured and leads me inside.
At the hostess desk, she gives her name and we are led to a table in the back. This is a restaurant you need reservations for. I wonder how long in advance she needed to make the reservation. We then take our seats and look over the menu. The waiter comes over and takes our drink order and gives us a few minutes to figure out what we want to eat.
“So are you excited to go see Nancy and everyone,” Rose asks.
“Yes. It will be great to get away and see some people I haven’t seen in a while,” I tell her.
“I’m sure it will be. Have you been up to anything new lately?”
“Not much, really. Just writing a new book and fixing up another Airbnb. I’ve got two in Waco already just working on the third.”
“Good. Have you or the kids talked to a therapist or anything? I just want to make sure you're taking care of yourselves mentally,” she says in a concerned voice.
Before I can answer the waiter comes back asking with a bright smile, “are y’all ready to order?”
“Yes,” Rose says looking up at him. “I’ll take the Boudin Empanadas.”
“That sounds good but I’ll take the Single Blue Ribbon Burger,” I answer.
We then both hand the waiter our menus and he walks away.
I take a deep breath then answer Rose’s question, “to answer your question, yes. Both of the kids are seeing a therapist still. I saw one for about a month then stopped going.”
She nods her head and then says, “as long as y’all are alright that’s all that matters. And if you need help you have people to call?”
“Yes. I’ve learned how to live with the amputation of not having him and I’m ok.”
I learned a few years ago that when you lose someone that close to you it’s like living without one of your limbs. It’s like learning how to go through life with a body part missing. I had adjusted over the past year. People thought I was cold hearted because of how I pushed my emotions aside and moved forward. But I had to. For me and my kids.
Our food then comes out and we dig in changing the subject to lighter and happier things. We chat still while eating and I learn what she’s been up to. Once we are done, we pay and leave the restaurant.
“It was great to see you, sweetie,” Rose says, bringing me in for another hug.
“It was great to see you too,” I say.
“Be safe on your trip and if you need anything just let me know.”
“I will,” I say with a smile.
We hug each other tightly one more time then go to our own vehicles. I climb in my vehicle and leave putting Nancy’s address back in my GPS. I get back on the road and notice I need to get gas.
I find a gas station to stop at and pull up to a pump. I go inside to get a snack for later on and some water. I notice while walking around the store a man watching me intently. I quickly move to the cash register ready to get out of there. I then go back out to fill up my vehicle watching the front door of the store out of the corner of my eye. I’ve always been good at reading a person's intentions and their energy by how they hold themselves, and the way they look at others.
I’m glad when the man that was looking at me in the store walked out and got into a car parked right in front of the store. He then drove away thankfully not giving me another glance.
Once my vehicle is full of gas I climb back in to start my travel up again. Back on the road I go singing along to my music once again.