Thursday, May 29, 2008

Separation by degrees

Lane was freezing inside a C-5 Galaxy high above the Atlantic Ocean as Jamila’s casket was being lowered into the earth somewhere in Dallas yesterday afternoon.

Just a few weeks ago, they were both hot and whole and secure in believing that nothing could ever come between them.

We heard from Lane again late last night. This time it was by phone. Her voice was as flat as it had seemed in that first email about the attack. Is it possible for a person to be in shock for this many days?

Jodie and I took turns talking to her first, and all we got were a bunch of single-syllable responses.

When Starr Ann took the phone, I could tell things were going pretty much the same for her. Then I heard Starr Ann say, “What if I fly up there to be with you?” Her expression dipped a little bit, and she said, “But I want to, Lane.” Lane must have actually gotten a whole sentence or two out then, because Starr Ann just listened for several seconds. When Lane was done, Starr Ann cradled the phone in the crook of her neck to free up her arms. She folded them across her chest and said, “Okay. I won’t.”

That was about it. Starr Ann disconnected the phone and handed it to Jodie, saying, “I’m going to take a shower. Margo, would you book me a flight on something, I don’t care what, to Walter Reed? The sooner the better.”

Jodie asked, “Should I pack a few things for you?”

Starr Ann just called over her shoulder, “No, I have my emergency pack, and this is definitely an emergency.”

Starr Ann’s probably landing in Washington, D.C., right about as I’m writing this.