Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Looking forward

The past few days have felt like walking through a fog as we absorb the reality of my father in law's death. Something that occurred to me in the past 48 hours was how comforting it has been to be in instant contact with friends and family all over the world with the news, thanks to email and to a lesser extent (remember I'm in my forties) Facebook. A sibling is in Madrid but with her Blackberry has been in constant contact. A cousin in Hong Kong and another in Texas and friends back East have been sending in their messages of condolence and their fond memories of BT.

Twenty years ago it would have taken a few days for those messages to arrive, and how those days would have been filled I can't imagine. It's a welcome distraction when each email arrives, a moment to be thankful for the friendships that have been sustained despite distance and time thanks to the ease of electronic connection.

One thing that has perhaps become more difficult is arranging bereavement travel, since the airlines are broke. We called United yesterday - Andrew has flown about a bazillion miles with them and they're usually quite deferential. This time we were told that the "special" bereavement fare is $100 more than the regular fare, because it's a flexible ticket. (To which Andrew said with grim humor, "For the first time in 2 years of my dad's illness I finally don't need flexibility.") Same story with trying to put together miles for at least one of the tickets; it'll take 3-5 days to transfer miles from your account to your husband's account, ma'am, I understand the funeral will be over by then.

We finally worked it all out - this is not a time to worry about burning plastic - but it is another sign of the gradual loss of the service that used to characterize the airlines, and now is as out of date as the free meals.

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