I don’t know if I am getting in over my head or hitting my stride. The ideas for The Trees have been flowing pretty good when I am thinking about where to go, but then I sit down and write, and they go in several directions I didn’t anticipate. I’m glad this is just a first draft.
Here is part 10…
The rest of the week was a blur.
Everyone was thankful for that. Dan and John had decided to share the news with the leadership team at their next meeting. These happened every other week, so he had some time to prepare. They had also decided to get the two families together for dinner on Sunday after Dan and Jan returned from Tucson.
Jan had reached out to J.R. and let him know that she and Dan would be coming down after work on Friday. J.R. was off on Saturday and could meet them for lunch at Café Poca Cosa, which was the Lewis family’s favorite place to eat in Tucson. Well, that and La Indita, but their spectacular calabacitas would have to wait.
They would take Jan’s Subaru down after work on Friday and get a room at Ventana Canyon. Dan thought it would be nice for the two of them to have a quiet evening together, maybe even order some room service. They had a lot to talk about and the drive across the desert in the afternoon would give them a chance to start.
Dan didn’t even put up a fight when Jan suggested taking her car. He knew the Yukon probably wouldn’t make it. It’s days of being anything more than a back and forth to work vehicle were over. He was half convinced it was a good idea to put a new transmission in it and keep driving it because he loved it and couldn’t bare to put it out of its misery.
Even though they were far from hurting for money, Jan knew better than to suggest a new vehicle, but maybe now, she thought Dan might spoil himself a bit. She had been hoping all week he might decide to splurge and get something nice to drive around but it had also occurred to her to add while he still can to this thought, as well.
Thoughts like this summed up that first week of knowing how sick he was for Jan. Luckily, she hadn’t had any clients to face. One good thing about doing training and consulting for clients in the educational software world was that she often had very light weeks and had plenty of time to prepare for any upcoming presentations she might have.
After teaching for so long, it was nice to be able to help teachers use the tools that were available to them. She also liked the idea of making three time what she did as a teacher working about 15 hours per week and occasionally getting to travel around the country. Jan had always liked to roam around and explore the world.
She loved that Dan was not a car guy, but she didn’t love that he was a pack rat. He never threw anything away. Case in point, he still had socks in his drawer from when they were dating. He said they were lucky. They had been a forest green at one point but were now faded and threadbare, but he refused to throw them away. He was wearing them the first time he and Jan slept together.
Dan was often sentimental. Jan loved this about him, too, although she could never quite wrap her brain around why things meant so much to him. For Jan, things were things. Even her wedding ring was just a thing. She loved it and loved what it symbolized, but it was just a thing. If she were to lose it, she would just get another one.
Jan loved people, though, and places, and experiences. She loved teaching and learning. While Dan was at work telling John his news, Jan was at home reading about fatal diagnoses on the internet. She realized this situation, as horrible as it may be, was also a chance for her to learn about life and love and loss. She could accept that Dan was dying if she could learn from it and grow, she thought.
Dan could talk at length, though, about why his holey socks or his tired, sun beaten Yukon still had value. If there was some sort of need involved, Dan could convince himself, and usually anyone else to buy or keep something. In Jan’s estimation, this was both a talent and a curse. It had afforded them a very nice life, but it had also meant that Dan was always tethered to things more than people, at least in her eyes.
She wasn’t religious, but during what she would later refer to as “the week her life changed,” she had been talking to God a lot. She prayed that Dan would be able to let go of his things so that he could let go of his life when the time came. He held onto the objects in his life so dearly that she feared he would not know how to let go when it was time to die. She did not want that pain for him. There would be enough physical pain to go around that emotional pain should not be part of the equation.
Jan wasn’t sure how J.R. was going to take this news. The one thing she did know was that she and Dan would not come back to Phoenix with any inkling of what J.R. needed or was thinking. He internalized important, emotional moments, just like his dad, and needed time to process things like she did. He would react, though, and it would be the raw feelings that would come out first. The true feelings would make their way to the surface in time.
Jan needed this conversation as badly as Dan did, but only because she was still trying to figure out what to feel and what to think. How J.R. took it would allow her to figure out what was best for the Lewis family because then she could start to see it from all sides. There was a hole in her thought process all week leading up to the conversation with their oldest son.
Being a philosopher, J.R. would look at this in a way that neither Jan nor Dan could accurately predict, although she was sure the two of them would talk about it on the way down to Tucson. She loved the drive and wished they were leaving a little later in the day. That stretch of I-10 is wonderful at sunset, but it didn’t matter. This time around, she might only have eyes for Dan.
See you tomorrow.
Not the road to Tucson....but a road in Arizona.