I have so much to tell you about my trip to Colorado. The retreat center really was a "sacred space" that I very much enjoyed. The view was beautiful-- mountains to the west and plains to the east, and Horsetooth Reservoir visible from the "Eagles Nest." Gorgeous. It was a time of professional growth and a renewal of counseling skills combined with a new understanding of helping people who grieve. And it was a time of personal growth, as I mourned with my new friends several losses and transitions in my life. I can't wait to go back. More on that soon when I have more time to debrief it myself. For now, I can't wait to tell you about my trip home so far.
The retreat got over at 2:30 Mountain Time. That's 3:30 Omaha time, so I knew I probably wouldn't make it all the way home. I am exhausted, physically and especially emotionally and mentally. So I came 1/2 way to McCook tonight, where I just had dinner with my sweet friend Amanda and have a breakfast date with my aunts and uncle. It was a 4.5 hour drive to here, and it was white-knuckle driving for the last 3 hours. I should first note that the first hour was delightful, and I called my sister-in-law Becky during the busiest time of her day to simply tell her that I think she should go on a Disney Cruise. God love you Becky, that I was so out of the kid-day-routine that I did this and that you put up with it, even entertained me on my drive for awhile!
Back to the drive... I seriously contemplated stopping several times, but there was not a town big enough for a hotel the entire way, I swear. It's a whole lotta nothing. I wanted so badly to call Dave, but I knew I would burst into tears. I prayed. I sang. I repeated positive statements to myself ("It's not freezing. You have some visibility. You can do this.") I planned my own funeral and I only wish I was kidding about that. I saw SEVERAL deer on the shoulder of the road. It wasn't icy, but it was snowing, and that is like a blanket of white coming at your face in the headlights. If you've ever drove in this you know it almost has a hypnotic feeling. At one point, in a small town of Wauneeta, I almost called my dad and asked if he had a farmer friend I could just call up. I was that scared, and just stressed. Well, it cleared about 30 min outside of town (PTL my prayers were seriously answered) and I am alive. Thankfully, it was above freezing and eventually the snow turned to rain, so I could have some visibility again. I had a bad feeling about the weather today. I had been watching the forecast and knew it would be close. I even told Dave on my way to the retreat today that this is not what I want to die wearing. A whole week of death talk, you have to have some honesty and humor, right.
I got to Aunt Pats about 9:00. I had the wrong garage code saved in my phone so I called my mom, standing in the driveway in the rain, and she still had it from 7 years ago when they lived in McCook. Welp, lucky for me. I get in and I heard a voice. So I called out, "Hello. Aunt Pat." She has a gorgeous house that almost feels as good as home to me but I couldn't figure out where she was, why she was home, and what she was saying... Wasn't she suppose to be playing Bridge? I kept my mom on the line.
"Garage Door. Motion Detected. Garage Door. Motion Detected."
"Um, Mom, hang on a minute."
* Huge High Pitch Siren*
"What in the dickens is that?" (If you know Lynette that just made you laugh)
*Huge High Pitch Siren*
"Mom, she has an alarm."
"Just go push OFF honey."
"I can't hear you."
"Mom, what am I going to do?"
*Huge High Pitch Siren*
"Call Aunt Pat"
"I did, before I called you."
"Hello, this is Suzie with the alarm system. There is a bulgary alarm going off. Can you tell me the password?"
"No, I can't. I am her niece. Stefanie Rowe. That's R O W E. Um, her name is Pat. Yes, I have her number right here. I don't know who else is on her list. Probably my uncle Ron and aunt Kelly. No, I don't know their number off hand."
"Okay, thank you Mrs. Rowe. Just keep trying to get a hold of her."
*Huge High Pitch Siren*
"Honey, go the garage, I can't hear you." (I love you Mom)
So I went to the garage and my mom got me my other aunt and uncle's number. They live across town in an alarm free home. They know the password. And code. After several tries and nearly bursting my uncle's eardrum, I got the alarm off. Thank you, Ron. But not before the neighbor called.
"This is Stefanie."
"This is Sandy next door. Are you Pat's niece? I thought so. The police are out front."
(I wasn't avoiding them, I was in the garage!)
I had a friendly chat with the skeptical police officers. I still had my uncle on the phone and I was so thankful that the alarm was finally off. I think it was blaring every 4 seconds for a good 40 minutes. I explained my story, which they made me tell twice--which I could with all the details because it was the truth. They looked familiar and I thought about asking them what year they graduated but I thought better of myself. As they were walking back to the now two police cars parked in front of my Aunts home, I said...
"I'm glad it works. The alarm system. It makes me feel safe for my Aunt Pat. Thanks for your service."
I think they laughed at me. I stood in the driveway in the spitting rain talking to the sweet neighbor in her red shoes and sweat pants. Nice lady, and apparently the other emergency contact who was called when I couldn't produce the password. She called Aunt Pat. So did I. So did the alarm company and I'm sure the police. She hasn't answered or called us back...yet. She must be having a good time!
I think this will be a bridge game she never forgets.
I won't either.
On the journey,