Do you ever have something that you feel so strongly in your heart but you have NO idea how to get it out? For the last week or so, I have found myself overwhelmed with deep feelings of sadness. BUT for every sad feeling I've had, I can hear God telling me to stop being sad and feel the joy.
I don't know where to begin and I'm not sure I can do justice to my feelings for the entire situation. Thanks to all my readers, first of all, just for following my nutty family. Based on those of you I keep in touch with regularly, I can say my readers span the nation. I'm sure you've all heard about the horrible flooding in the Nashville area. I can't begin to express the concern I have for the families there. Jeff and I have talked many times about how we would live in Nashville without a doubt. We enjoy the city immensely and visit often...several times a year. I have pictured myself being one of the families who were told to evacuate their homes and had only a few minutes to choose which belongings to take with them. As an insurance agent, I have seen what flooding can do to a home. I can imagine the mud and the destroyed "little" things that make a home a home lying there when the family returns. It breaks my heart. It hit really close to home...it could have been me.
It IS me. I don't know if I've ever mentioned my father in law, Stuart, on this blog. He passed away several years before I even thought about a blog. He was one of only a few men I have ever trusted and truly loved. We had a unique relationship, and I would have to say he was one of my best friends EVER. Jeff and I spent every day of our lives with him at least until we had kids and I'd have to say every other day after that. He wasn't just Jeff's dad, he was his friend as well. We worked together and we played together and we never got tired of each other. We fought, we fought hard, but we always loved each other and we always accepted our differences.
So how does this connect with the floods in Nashville?? I feel like I have lost my connection to Stuart. Oh, here is where it starts to hurt. It hurts to say, it hurts to feel, and it hurts to doubt. One weekend out of the clear blue, Stuart called us on a Friday morning and said, "Let's go to Nashville for the weekend." He wanted to go on vacation and take the kids to the Opryland Hotel. I honestly don't remember if they had ever been at that time. I don't think they had. Stuart could be spontaneous, but his wife Barbara WAS NOT. He knew Jeff and I would pack up and take off in a heart beat, and we were honestly shocked when he MADE Barbara go. We got to the hotel LATE that night and our rooms were screwed up. Luckily we ended up in fabulous rooms with atrium views. I have to admit, I was somewhat hesitant to take this trip because I was scheduled to go on a girls trip back to the hotel the following weekend. Jeff said come on, who cares...it's with Dad. Everything about the trip was perfect. The kids were great. We had brunch in the Cascade Restaurant and we had dinner at the steakhouse. I think our meal was almost $500 that night, and I remember Stuart saying, "Come on try it...We are on vacation." We shopped and took the boat tour through the hotel. We sat on a bench in the gardens and ate ice cream. We came back home on Sunday. My birthday was that Wednesday or Thursday and of course, we celebrated it with him at his house. He made me a cake. He always did!
I left again on Friday with my friend Jenifer to head back to the hotel for a relaxing girls weekend. We left early that morning and got there in time to hit the spa for pedicures. We went downtown that night and had dinner at the brewery and went back and hung out in the atrium at the hotel. My kids spent that Friday night with Stuart, they called him Pepaw (Pee-paw). Jeff picked them up Saturday morning after Stuart made them pancakes and he was getting ready to put up a new flag pole he had purchased the weekend before in Nashville. Jenifer and I were enjoying daiquiris at the pool. About 3 o'clock, Jen and I headed back to the spa for our massages. I had checked on Jeff and the kids and was SO looking forward to this massage. About 30 minutes after checking in and laying down and I think they were working on my legs, someone knocked on the door. Having never had a massage, this didn't strike me as weird. A lady stepped in and said, "Mrs. Acree, you have a phone call. It's an emergency." I remember standing up and feeling all of the blood rush to my feet and not caring a bit that I was butt ass naked. I HAD to get to that phone. My massage lady threw a robe over me when I was in the hall. (Have I ever mentioned I'm NOT shy?) They took me to the phone at the front desk. All the way there, I knew in my heart that Dalton was hurt. After all, he had been airlifted before, it had to be him and it had to be bad. Who knew where I was or how to find me? I picked up the phone and Jeff was crying telling me to get home right away. That was all he would say. I kept asking why and he finally told me he had found his dad and he was dead. I was sitting in the floor behind the front desk at the Relache Spa when Jenifer got to me.
Anyway, I got home... We have been back to the Gaylord Hotel every year since then at LEAST once. Every time I'm there I can feel Stuart talking to me. I can feel him behind me walking through the atrium. He is part of the breeze that flows through there and I get such an amazing calm that I don't get anywhere else. He has never been the reason for my return, but he is there every time I've been. Have you seen the hotel lately? It's full of water and ruined. I'm ridiculously scared of what it will be after it is repaired and terrified that my "connection" will be gone. I don't do the whole ghost thing, and hope that I don't sound crazy for sharing this, but it breaks my heart. If I had known when we were there in February, I would have said "bye". If I had known that birthday party would be the last time I saw him, I would have said "bye". Dalton told me last year he could still taste the pancakes and sausage Pepaw made him that morning. Stuart, we miss you and I can't believe I have lost that place of connection to you.
Thanks for letting me "share" something that has been weighing me down. Sometimes a good cry is all you need.