Gary and I are headed out of state today to be at the bedside of his dying friend and near his wife. I have to admit I'm dealing with some mixed feelings about this trip. Some of these feelings are less than noble. I don't know these people at all; I've never so much as spoken with them. Gary tracked them down by way of the internet three or four years ago and they've stayed in touch by way of email ever since. This part of Gary's history predates me and most of the attempts to stay in touch have been on his part (he is completely, unfailingly loyal to those he loves) and most of the exchanges have been with the wife (and she writes long, beautiful letters).
I have laundry list of concerns. The weather is anything but travel friendly here at the moment snow falling heavily, and we're driving north in a front wheel drive, where they say it is not only falling, but drifting. Though bearable under normal circumstances, money is tight and this is anything but normal. We'll be leaving the kids here and driving over three hundred miles and, while I'm sure they'll be fine, I'm not crazy about being that far away from them (when we've gone camping alone, we were only just over an hour away). They'll be missing school while I'm gone (though Daniel and Jeremiah are off due to snow anyway) and it feels like they're already behind. The decision to go was made last night and anyone that knows me knows I don't do last minute well at all. We will be walking into (what is for me) a houseful of strangers at the worst possible moment of their lives. They have children, one with Asperger's who is just about Sam's age. The other is a little younger than Jeremiah. This has to be a nightmare for them all.
But whether I understand it or not (and I think I do), this matters deeply to Gary and it seems to be important that I go with him. He is intertwined with them, they are a deep part of his history and he feels like he is losing not just a friend but a vital piece of himself. Dealing with people's deaths and grief of those left behind seems to be an area of specialty for him; you might call it his gift. Whether they know it or not, he is bringing that with him. I am his moral support and perhaps I can help in some small way (though I have no idea how at the moment).
So I'm packed and we'll be heading out in a couple of hours. There's a load of wash to fold, kids to brief, and a phone call or two to make. I'll very likely have more to write when I get back.