I’m sitting in the Admirals Club in Austin Airport with my family. We fly back to the UK in an hour and a half. My husband’s frequent flyer miles got us the treat of the first class lounge. Which to my kids delight serves free cookies, fruit and nibbles. Frustratingly single business men take up tables made for four, so in the ‘exclusive’ environment we are split between tables. But the magarita is good.
Nearly good enough to make me forget we are not going back for a holiday, or to visit with friends and family. We are going back for a funeral. My mum’s funeral.
Every expat expects this flight – the one back home to a loved ones funeral. Its why funding for it is written into most relocation contracts. Even before the last few weeks, months, of mum’s illness, I had been expecting to make this flight, at some point, every since we moved to Texas.
I feel surprisingly calm. Having been there when mum died has taken some of the sting out of this flight back. The greif is no longer fresh and chocking. More subdued and buried. Now my mind is full of practicalities for the next few days. Where to pick the keys for the holiday house, charging my iPad, weather forcasts and clothes for the funeral.
I’m distracted too by all the arrangements that need to be made before we move in four weeks. Booking movers, telling the school, cancelling utilities, moving our cable contract, sorting out the swimming pool heater in our new house. I even worry, much to my husbands amusement about telling Barnes and Noble the bookstore.
Perhaps its a survival mechanism. To focus on the impossibly yellow and orange vision of Trump on TV, the kids changed bus route, the free cookies in the lounge, to focus on anything but the fact that this is the first time that I’m traveling back when mum won’t be waiting to see me, checking her messages for my progress, anything but the thought that in two days time I will be standing in a wood, watching my mothers wicker coffin be lowered into the ground.