Everyone join me! It’s safe, we are all behind our monitors, no one can hear you, and sing Happy Birthday to my beautiful, 19-year-old, Cole! Sing as loud as you can, with as much love as you can, today he deserves all our voices and all our love. Today is not just his birthday, today is Jacks funeral (Cole & Jack).
All Cole wanted for his birthday was to get to Florida, to be there for Jack, Joey and the entire family. Together with my dad, I moved mountains to get him there. Our first obstacle was finding his passport. Cole had misplaced after returning from his summer vacation. Thankfully it turned up in Veronica (What a week!), after she finally returned home after almost two weeks in the shop.
I quickly got his paperwork signed, and found a SpaceA (Flying Space Available) flight on Tuesday. We signed up. My dad bought a Southwest ticket to Raleigh. We were good to go. Sadly, it didn’t have enough seats. Wednesday was out, so Thursday was our last ditch effort. It was meant to be. There were 100+ seats available, we drove to Ramstein, signed him in, hugged, I cried, and he waited for his flight alone as I raced home to pick up Dane & Tess.
My dad changed the Southwest ticket to Thursday night (Southwest rocks! No change fee!) and off he went. With delays. My Dad and I manned our computers, he found a flight Friday morning to Jacksonville (not Raleigh), through Nashville, and again changed Cole’s ticket (Southwest really, really rocks!). I messaged our friends stationed at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, and they happily went to the airport to find a very confused & bewildered Cole. They loved him, fed him, gave him a bed and drove him back to BWI bright & early yesterday morning.
I also messaged my friends at Ft. Bragg, they had volunteered to squeeze Cole into their van of six for the drive to Florida. Now, instead, they swung by Jacksonville airport to pick him up. Cole again had delays in Nashville, big storms are hitting all over the East Coast with flooding in NC and FL. And yet, when he needed to travel, the skies and roads cleared enough to make a path.
Last night he made it to Florida just in time for Jack’s wake thanks to my dad, my friends in Baltimore, and my friends in Raleigh. This morning, on his 19th birthday, he will be at Jack’s memorial mass. Splendid in his new shirt, tie and suit. I am heart-broken to be sitting here, and not standing there. Not holding him up.
Instead he is there. Holding up Jacks brother, his parents, being strong. My beautiful baby is all grown-up. I am beyond proud of the young man he has become.