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"To Have Loved & Lost"© Part Five

Posted on December 13, 2016 at 1:00 AM

At around eight o'clock in the evening Diana finally reached her mountainous destination; a bustling city-sized town that reminded her a lot of where she grew up back home. It did not take too long to find lodging for two nights. Once checked in at the front desk, Diana parked her station wagon as close to the room as she could and wasted no time unpacking her stuff. She was bushed. As she slumped back onto her room's cozy bed, Diana thought back to her bold decision to come here on her own. This was on the evening of her sixth straight day of traveling westward. It had actually turned out to be quite a personal feat for her with just the driving. Unfortunately, no sooner than that encouraging sentiment left her mind were the tendrils of sadness waiting. Diana's thoughts turned to missing her fiancé Tom. She did not want to experience life's joys for herself. She wanted to live them with him.


Diana’s previously patient appetite grumbled a reminder too of the last time she ate anything, and that the meal was hardly a full course either. To finish her unpacking, she brought in Tom’s favorite worn leather jacket from her car. She absently placed it over the seatback of the hotel room’s second chair rather than putting it on before heading back out. Diana sat in the other chair to browse through the hotel’s guest registry for places nearby to eat. There were an appealing number of choices. She found one on the same road as the hotel, about a half mile away, which seemed interesting and unique to the town. Better to respect and appreciate local talents than some restaurant chain, Diana thought to herself. With her mind made up she locked her room, pepped up her car, and drove down to the address. She found the quaint place to be a tavern with a nice, humble atmosphere and an appealing interior design.


Upon stepping inside, wondrously delicious aromas assaulted Diana's senses and made it clear she chose the right place. She ordered something modest, instead of pricey, as she needed to watch her pocket book. The meal turned out to be more scrumptious than expected with what she thought was such a frugal choice. Good enough that the half hour it took to eat caught Diana a bit off guard. She left a good tip, paid the bill, and drove the short distance back to the hotel. Despite a warm refreshing shower, she still could not shake the restlessness aching her from head to toe. So Diana decided to dress for the night and reclined on the bed without drawing back the covers. Her mind all the while taunted by lingering unpleasantness. With the food in her system making her feel increasingly sleepy, Diana put up little resistance to how on the bed she laid when finally drifting off to sleep.


As it turned out, Diana should have done more to calm her nerves before giving in to sleepiness. No sooner had she closed her eyes than a tormentful night of sleeplessness began. The built up emotions from Tom's death busied themselves all night pecking at her mind, desperately trying to find a way out. The same forces which brought her life, and her future, to a painful halt. The tossing and turning alone would have left her speechless. When Diana awoke, it took forever to see the alarm clock time was just after ten in the morning. She was startled to find her room lights still on. The same simple sense of order could not be compared to the covers, which were strewn all around the bed itself. Fortunately though, Diana was not expected at the University campus until one in the afternoon. Before leaving home, she had been invited to meet with Tom's former colleagues plus a respective campus tour.


Diana did try her honest best to straighten the bed for housekeeping, before getting dressed and making her way out to her car. Except that she had not thought any further ahead than the driver's seat. She needed something to qualify as caloric intake, which was taken care of thanks to a fast food drive-thru. As she sat in the parking lot, Diana checked over the directions to the campus again but felt uneasy about the meet and greet with Tom's colleagues. They knew him. She did not know them. To take her mind off of the extra couple hours she still had before the meeting, Diana bided her time by driving around town to see what it was like. An occasional wandering thought of what Tom would have been doing still crossed her mind while she drove. The curiosity soon dissipated. Unexpectedly, Diana lost track of time and made a hasty beeline to the campus hoping she would not be too tardy.


She could not help but feel sheepish to be even a little bit late, Diana thought to herself. She quickly parked and made her way to the campus Foundation & Alumni Center. Upon her approach she was greeted by a stout and warmly welcoming tall guy who eagerly extended his hand in greeting. His name was Avis, a friend and mutual colleague of Tom's geological studies for the surrounding region. Despite the unfortunate circumstances of her reason to be there, Diana felt grateful for Avis’ outgoing nature. His boldness to welcome her eased some of the tension she had felt. They went inside the building and were met by two other colleagues, Everett and Zoë, who both collectively offered their sincerest condolences for Diana’s loss. Their kindhearted descriptions of how wonderful Tom had been as a person to befriend, and work with, made her appreciate having decided to attend this meeting.


In unison, the four of them began the campus tour which inadvertently led them around more of the campus students than Diana had anticipated. She could feel her unsettled anxiety slowly simmer and it put her more on edge than she would have liked in such a public setting. In an attempt to hide her feelings, Diana shifted her attention more on what the outspoken Avis was explaining about the University system. But she was not sure if her outward appearance was also composed. Just then, Zoë unexpectedly spoke up to suggest curbing the tour short and discreetly insisted that this was a stressful time for Diana. Zoë must have picked up on her body language, actually much to her relief. It was not that Diana disliked being here; she was just under a lot of stress. The two shared mutual eye contact as a gesture of gratitude and thankfulness for Zoë's cool handling of the unfortunately awkward situation.


Before Diana made her departure from the pleasant company, Everett spoke up and offered her to join them and a few other colleagues for a get-together in town later that night. Zoë and Avis also whole heartedly insisted. It was their way for to share the best of Tom, and pay their respects to her for having come such a long way to be here. Brushing aside a brief flush of anxiety, Diana accepted their gracious invitation. She was also surprised to find out that the chosen location was the stylish tavern she had been to the night before. So there was no quandary about how to get there. The group settled on between three and four o'clock, which gave Diana plenty of time to be by herself at the crash site. Although, to get there she did require directions so she modestly asked the group. Avis was more than happy to oblige as he knew the route past the site rather well, for which Diana was very thankful.

Categories: Inspirational, "Just Before the Dawn"©

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