I was so excited and completely blown away when I was presented with the opportunity to attend this years Edel Gathering in Charleston, South Carolina. Due to the generosity of others, who remain anonymous to this day, I made my way down south last Thursday.
I flew for the first time in six years and I have to say it was a bit nerve racking. So many people. So much noise. So many opportunities for madness to ensue. I know that may surprise many of you that these things can bug an extrovert like myself but they do on occasion.
I am also not a big fan of being enclosed in a tube full of a smelly boys high school basketball team going to some tournament which was catapulting itself through space at a billion miles per hour. I prefer a bus or a car. I think it’s all the traveling I have done with Miss Courtney. I got used to being able to move around and stop when needed.
An airplane doesn’t really allow that.
As Jerry dropped me off at Reagan National, I got very emotional as we said goodbye. It surprised me. I clung to Jerry and cried my eyes out. I told him I loved him and if the plane crashed to move on with his life and find someone to love. He laughed at me and told me to get my butt on the plane. It would all be OK.
I think I was just so nervous about the conference, meeting all the people I have only known online in person, as well as actually physically leaving my own family for the first time since Courtney’s death, except for work camp…which we won’t discuss because there were nuns…with machetes.
I was also under caffeinated. That’s never a good situation.
The plane ride went well and I arrived safely in Charleston to begin my adventure. The first hiccup came when I tried to get my rental car. They had lost my reservation and had already rented out the small car I reserved. Fortunately I had all my paperwork and after a little convo with the manager where I channeled my very feisty take no crap mother-in-law, I ended up with a sweet ride.
A Mercades Benz SUV for the price I was given for the other car. Oh yeah baby. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. It didn’t even have a key. It had a fob. I had no idea that was even a thing. I felt a character from Rich Kids of Beverly Hills..
I left the airport and I an into what can only be described as a wall of humidity. I mean I felt like I was walking through a jello fog. Holy Humidity Batman. I had no idea. I have lived in the MidAtlantic for so long I forgot what southern humidity felt like.
As the sweat began to drip down my back, I made my way into the city thanks to the GPS in my awesome ride. Charleston reminded me of downtown Alexandria, with all the historic store fronts and cobblestone streets with the water in the background. It was lush and green and very, very humid.
Have I mentioned that intense humidity and menopause don’t really go together? Yep…Mary was melting and it was not pretty.
I parked the car and headed into the historic Francis Marion Hotel. What a gem. The lobby was expansive and decorated in true southern tradition. There were plush couches and chairs, cozy little conversation areas and a floor made of marble. It was beautiful.
I was still dealing with uncomfortable sweat dripping down my back, my legs, my arms, my face…I felt like I had just gotten out of the shower and put my clothes on. Oy vey.
All I could think of was getting a nice cool shower and changing my clothes. I began the registration process and a group of women gathered behind me in line, patiently waiting their turn to do the same.
As I turned to head to the elevator smiling at the thought of that shower I fantasized about, I heard “Oh my gosh. It’s Courtney’s Mom.”
I smiled and faced a group of four smiling women and over the course of the next five minutes hugged and introduced myself to each one. They called me a celebrity and told me how much they loved my blog. They conveyed their condolences for Courtney’s death and one even said their conference trip was made. They had finally met me in person.
I had no words. None. I was so completely surprised and humbled to be greeted in such a manner. I am always surprised to realize that people actually read my blog. I mean I just sit in my kitchen and write about my life, the good, the bad and the ugly.
After the hugs, I headed to my room, got that shower and changed into clean clothes. A happier girl you have never met than in that moment.
Well actually, I was pretty darn happy to have made a difference in someones life. Those women (Hi Jen! Hi Angie!) were genuinely overjoyed to meet me. I could not have imagined a day that anyone would call me a “celebrity”.
Seriously. I am just Mary, from Fairfax, VA. Wife to Jerry, mama to Jonathan and Courtney, Marianne and Joe’s daughter, and a sister to seven awesome human beings.
I was so honored and humbled to be treated with such kindness. So honored and humbled to meet some of the prayer warriors who supported us in Courtney’s last days and so happy to begin a weekend that would change my life.
Seriously change my life.
Humidity be damned. Edel had begun and God was about ready to flip my word upside down.
Check back tomorrow for Edel: Part two…where the internet comes to life.
Our new goal is $3,209.00 which will eliminate the balance on a credit card used for Courtney’s PT, OT and Feeding therapies and supplies used over the last five years. If we can raise this amount, we can pay it off and be that much closer to our larger goal. One thing at a time. Thank you so much for your help.
The entire medical debt is extensive, approx. $71,000. It’s a lot and will take years to whittle down. Anything helps. Anything. So, I will keep it at the bottom of my posts for awhile. You all have already given so much to our family. Our prayers are with you and we are so very grateful. We can never repay that kindness. So thank you…just thank you. If you would like our mailing address, please just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it.