Our first two nights out on this adventure were with my brother and his family. Any tension with which I might have begun the trip vanished in that locale. We drank really good coffee and ate equally good food. We caught up on news of jobs and school. We told stories, were introduced to BBC's "Top Gear" (oh, my!), attended an end-of-band camp performance and even took in the wonders of the local (and massive) Bass Pro Shops. The Mechanicsville hospitality is always rich, warm and genuine.
There's not much to say about our day's travel from Virginia into Connecticut. It was hazy and hot. For most part the traffic was heavy and at one spot rather harrowing, the details of which I'll skip over rather happily. There wasn't much scenery to enjoy along that congested corridor. The George Washington Bridge, for example, is an architectural gem, as are many of the buildings on I-95 just as we entered the city. Even with Tal driving, however, who could actively do any more than notice? A long gaze at anything today, even for the passenger, was completely impossible.
During the Mechanicsville to almost-NYC leg which I drove and then during the almost-NYC to Meridian CT with Tal driving, it crossed my mind to decide inwardly that I do not want to make this particular drive again. Only in the most extreme circumstances do I want to drive to Maine again. It feels too hard and too dangerous. We were enormously grateful to tuck ourselves safely into our room at the Holiday Inn Express in Meridian on the Berlin Turnpike.
Then, I made a telephone call to our friends in Maine with whom we were to stay for three nights before joining the canoeing group, a telephone call that took my breath away. Hester's sister-in-law answered the phone; Hester, who has been battling newly diagnosed cancer, is getting ready to leave this world, the sister-in-law told me. The daughter and grandchildren had arrived. When I talked to Hester only two weeks ago, she was getting ready to welcome the garden club to tour her backyard and she implored us to consider returning for a longer visit after we canoed on the Allagash. Dying? I couldn't and still can't get my mind to cooperate with that thought. I'm trapped in an in-between place, stuck with Hester's invitation still fresh in my mind and Kay's very terrible news trampling all over my heart. Melodramatic, I know, but it's true in this moment.