By Thursday morning all five of us (LC, me, Chris, Lisa and Mick) had firmly decided that we liked each other, and in such a very short period of time had developed a very comfortable rapport with each other.
The guys had bonded.
The women had bonded.
It was all unexpectedly nice and comfortable and I was enjoying having all of these people in my house.
Before we had even eaten breakfast Chris dragged me and Mick out to a field across the road from the house, intent on learning how to throw a boomerang.
Before Lisa left the country she asked me if I wanted anything from Australia.
I wanted a boomerang and a stuffed koala bear.
The boomerang for me and the bear for a little boy back in Tennessee who I had never met.
Instead of those two things, my sister handed me a bag full of Australian treasures - lotions and dried fruits and little glass kangaroos, a koala bear, two boomerangs for me and two for Chris.
In return, I shared wolf plates, a wooden picture frame decorated with small metal grizzly bears, a carved wood candle holder, and a couple of deer antlers.
My son brought a metal deer head that he had made himself, a lighted dog collar and dog tag for Kory, and some more of his military medallions and certificates that he continually gives to me when I see him, so I can keep them safe for him.
From me he got a...........UT Vols orange hat.
That he found laying on a counter in the garage.
I felt bad.
But until the day before he arrived, I did not know for certain that Chris was going to come down to visit.............
And so........with boomerang in hand I stood off to the side, watching as my son and his uncle-by-marriage tossed a boomerang around the field.
It apparently was not as easy as either Chris or I had expected.
And even the only Australian in the group couldn't get the paint embellished stick to return the way a boomerang is supposed to.
I gave it a shot and actually succeeded in getting it to turn back towards me, but it quickly and unceremoniously fell to the ground.
Handing it back to my son, I watched him with mild bemusement as he tossed it and retrieved it, tossed it and retrieved it, over and over.
The darn thing refused to come back...................
There were a couple of power poles in this field, and one small, random pole that is there for reasons unknown.
Chris managed to miss the power poles, but the small, random pole that sits in the field for reasons on unknown?
He threw the boomerang, hit the small pole (that was only 10 feet away) which stopped the boomerang dead in its tracks.
It hit the ground with a thud, Chris bent down to pick it up and as he stood back up I realized that he had a piece of boomerang in each hand.
LC glued it back together once we reached the house, and Chris flirted with the idea of taking his second boomerang out to the field, until wisely deciding that he was better off quitting while he was ahead................
Chris was leaving in a few hours.
I didn't want him to go.
It felt as though he had just arrived.
I had so greatly enjoyed my time with him, and I didn't want him to go.
Feeling the familiar ache of loss already building I did what I always do.
I needed to move.
And I asked Chris to come with me.
Together we loaded into the Suburban along with my energetic pup, and with Chris driving we headed out of town, slowly drove down the gravel road, turned right onto Big Butte Rd and headed towards Cedar Butte.
As we reached the railroad tracks I made the instant decision to ask Chris to pull into a small turn off close to the tracks.
We would wander a short way, explore some lava rock, let Kory run and play, and just spend some time alone together in the sun and in the quiet...................
Leaving to go to the airport.
Me, Chris and Lisa (with Kory standing on the kitchen table and watching through the window).
In all these years it never occurred to me that this picture would ever be taken.
It never occurred to me that I would ever see Lisa again, and it never occurred to me that my son would have the chance to meet his aunt.
It meant a lot of to me.
And the fact that everyone had hit it off so well meant a lot to me as well.
More than I could ever describe ................
Chris at the airport.
This son of mine seems happy, healthy and more settled than I have seen him in a very long time.
He was relaxed and laughed often.
I can still hear his voice and his laugh in my head and I will hold on to those sounds until I see him again.
Truthfully I did not expect him to like our low cost house in the desert but he loved it.
The house, the yard, the desert, the quiet, the freedom, all of it.
There is so much that I wish we had had time to show him.
The mountains. The rivers. The passes. The lakes that are further up the valley.
Maybe next time....................
I watched my son as he quickly checked in, and then we quickly wandered through the small gift shop.
As Lisa, Mick and I walked my son to the screening area I placed my hand on his back, finding myself needing to stay in physical contact with my boy.
Chris shook hands with Mick and smiled a warm smile that told me he liked this Australian man that he had gotten to know over the past few days.
He hugged his aunt goodbye.
I don't know if he will ever see her again, but at least once - at least once - he got to meet her.
And then he turned to me and leaned down so I could wrap my arms around his neck and so I could kiss him on his cheek.
I let him go, looked up at this man who towered over me and who I remember so clearly as an 8 pound 5 ounce newborn, and then reached up to hug and kiss him again.
I hated this part.
Dammit to hell.
I love you Baby....................
Lisa, Mick and I walked out of the airport, walked across the parking lot, climbed into the Tahoe and headed towards town.
We were going to walk by the falls.....................