We are home from our trip! We got back yesterday but our internet was SLOOOOW and I didn't want to attempt posting pictures with a bad connection. So here I am, a little late. Here's the first 2 days of the trip. I'll post this in parts so it won't get too terribly long.
We left Altus and arrived in OKC about 2 hours later. Eva was great in the car, and we got to the airport in plenty of time. The first flight was great--Eva did wonderfully. We had a layover in Phoenix, where I randomly saw my cousin Charlotte Andersen Allsop. Small world! But I guess when I have over 100 cousins, I'm bound to see a relative in the Mormon community. :) Our second flight was alright. It was getting late--we didn't land until about midnight our time, so Eva was absolutely exhausted. She fell asleep for a little on the flight, but Andrew had to shift his position to save his arm and she woke up screaming. And continuted to scream for about the last 30 minutes of the flight. It was also unbearably HOT in the plane. The vents were blowing air that was no less than 85 degrees, and I thought I was going to pass out myself. So I'm sure Eva was so miserable. But we survived with nobody yelling at us, so I was fine.
Andrew's mom picked us up and we went to the Radisson in downtown SLC, where we stayed for the rest of the weekend. Let me tell you, that hotel puts the hotel where we are currently living to SHAME. Especially the beds. They had the sleep number beds that you could adjust and I enjoyed playing with that every night.
The next morning we went down to the hotel restaurant for a yummy buffet breakfast, and then it was to Bountiful for John's funeral. We had to stop and get Andrew a belt and me a slip, but we made it there in plenty of time. When we walked in the door, they had a display set up with all sorts of John things. The first thing I saw was his flight suit draped across a chair, and that's when I realized I was going to lose it. It just hit me a little too close to home since Andrew wears that same exact flight suit every single day. Rather than waiting in line, I ran to the bathroom to gain composure. I cried several times, obviously, and it was a very emotional funeral for everyone. But at the same time, it was just a beautiful service. The spirit was so strong and the tributes to John were perfectly balanced with feeling comfort and peace through talking about the gospel. After the funeral there was an F-16 flyover, which was so neat. I also loved being able to see so many friends from the Academy and Colorado. It was, of course, a sad occasion, but it made it also a happy one to reunite with so many people we love.
The graveside service was also emotional and beuatiful. John received full military honors with the 21-gun salute and presentation of the flag folded over the casket. I couldn't help but wonder if I would be standing there someday receiving the Andrew's flag. It was certainly a solemn time for all of us involved in the military to reflect on what we may be called upon to sacrifice. Emily was amazing, though. She was absolutely a pillar of strength. I have to admit that I was nervous to talk to her because I felt that anything I might say would be trite and inadequate to express how I feel about the situation. But she was incredibly gracious and made everyone feel so comfortable in reminiscing about John with her.
There was a luncheon at a church where we once again got to talk with our friends. Chris Culver spoke at the funeral and mentioned how all of the cadets and their wives were like family. When John met Chris' wife for the first time at their wedding, he said, "Welcome to the family." And that's really how it is. Just like family, it's not like everyone has always gotten along perfectly, but we all feel so much love for each other, and it was just wonderful to be with them all. Clay and Kara, Will and Sarah, Beau and Bekah, Chris (his wife Stacy couldn't come), Kelly and his new wife, Chase...I just love every one of them.
After the luncheon, we had some unexpected good news through a phone call from Melanie Willis. A huge, bad storm hit Altus AFB on Thursday and all the power was out. Power lines were down and nothing was functioning--there wasn't even power in our TLFs. So Andrew called the student administration and was told that nobody was reporting for duty again until Monday. So...we changed his flight and he got to stay with me for the rest of the weekend. I can't even tell you the happiness and relief I felt. I know that it was important for him to spend more time with our friends to work through his feelings about John, and I also wanted him to be there with me on the plane ride home. As well as the rest of the weekend, of course. So the storm ended up being an answer to a prayer I had never even said. :) Oh, and at this point I should insert that Andrew looked HOT on Friday. Seriously, I don't think he has looked that good since our wedding day. He wore his new silver shirt and tie that he bought for the funeral, and...yum. Anyway. Oh, and I should also say here that one of the most common phrases said to me that day was, "I read your blog!" I can't say how good that made me feel! I was really surprised, to be honest. You know when you write something like this, you have in your mind a general audience that will read it. But some people that told me that were people I never would have thought would have interest in anything I would write. I was flattered. And Andrew thought it was pretty funny. I told him he has me to thank that people can keep up with our lives, but he still makes fun of the blog world. I know he secretly loves it.
So we changed his plane ticket (thanks to his Dad--he was so generous in helping us with tickets!) and then headed over the the Finks' hotel room at Grand America for another little reunion with our friends to talk about John. Emily ended up coming, as well as John's sister Julie, who is close with the cadets. We unfortunately arrived late and missed the part where everyone went around and told stories about John, but we still got there in time to talk with everyone. The Finks are some of our favorite people and we were so grateful to them for having the great idea to get everyone together like that. (By the way, if anyone reading this has pictures from that day, please email them to me! I only took one picture the whole day--I'm stupid!) After a couple hours of talking, we headed to dinner at Rodizio's at Trolley Square. YUM.
Thankfully, Beau and Will were still in their uniforms, so some generous person that saw them gave them some coupons that ended up saving our group $110 on dinner. Yay for military uniforms, and yay for people who love them and give them things like that. :) It was so yummy--especially the watermelon. It was pretty late after we finished eating, so we said our goodbyes and parted ways. Luckily we will see most of them again soon as they are moving to Wichita Falls (only an hour from us) to start pilot training.
As Andrew and I drove home to the Radisson, I thought to myself how good it felt to be on a "date" like that. I honestly felt renewed. I felt like we were engaged again--hanging out with all those people that we lived near at that time in our life. So many things have changed since then, but we're all still the same people. We really need to get out on dates without Eva more often. A million thanks to Cindi, Andrew's mom, for keeping Eva while we went all day. She said Eva was a perfect angel--another answer to prayer. It was truly a wonderful day.