I just finished the journey home. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve come alone in my adult life. It’s weird. At one point today my children were on an island in the Pacific, I was in Seattle and Ray was in Atlanta. It’s just not right. Not now, when we should all be together for this. I’m grateful for the time I get to spend with Mom though.

I need to take a second and say thank you. Thank you to our church family and thank you to our navy family. They stepped up BIG. I never leave my kids. On one occasion I left Arleigh and Hanan over night with someone other than my mom. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it was to leave my house last night, kissing those little faces. Thank you Kristina and Landry for being there. Thank you Guy, Karrie and Lorraine for standing in the gap as my taxi service. It was a huge relief! Thank you Ray for pulling double duty so that I can be here with Mom. I love you!

So I’ve made the long trip. At one point Ray told me today that I will have a lot to blog about. I’ve been quiet for far too long. He may have been referencing the near panic attack I had when I had to ride on a plane with a row full of adults rather than children. It’s much easier to stretch out with Bria and Jack laying across me in a row than sitting with two other adults. He could have been mentioning the fact that I spent nearly 13 hours in various airplanes with no headphones and I had my own screen. The horror! There was the bigger horror of the man sitting across from me who went to the bathroom like 10 times in two hours. When he started to break out in a cold sweat I started wondering if it would be appropriate to spray down the entire airplane with Lysol. Is that legal? Lots of things to blog about is right. The first leg of the journey was worth three posts. Too bad I lost everything I wrote while I was still on the plane. (Insert curse word here.)

The real thing to blog about, the thing that has consumed me the last few days is that heaven gained a good man. No, heaven gained a great man. Ned passed away on Thursday. I had to write the day because they are all running together. I’m home to wish him Fair Winds and Following Seas and to be with Mom. I love that navy sentiment but at this moment I think Aloha is more fitting… hello, goodbye, love and until we meet again.

My heart is broken for Mom, Angie, Bryan, Chase and Kyle. It is truly hurting for all those precious little hearts of his 13 grandchildren who loved him so dearly. When I learned about Ned’s diagnosis my heart ached for him. I knew either Ned would find his way to getting better or find his way to heaven. Either way his battle would be awful. He can rest. Now I’m hurting for the hearts left behind to grieve for him until they meet him again.

I remember like yesterday the first time I met Ned. I had a diaper bag slung over one shoulder, a backpack on the other, a baby on my hip and a rather large car seat in my hand. Did I mention I was pregnant and traveling by myself with a baby from Iceland? Yeah. Good times. It was the Christmas after 9-11 and there would be no one meeting me at the gate. Of course we were at the last one and there was no cart. I finally came out of the glass doors looking for Mom and some relief. This man walks up and says, “are you Brandi?” I told him I was. He said, “Hi, I’m Ned.” He proceeded to tell me that my mother was at a counter throwing a hissy fit because she thought we missed our flight, got lost in the hallway or just generally disappeared. He asked if he could help. I said “yes, please take something.” He grabbed Arleigh out of my arms and I dropped everything else. Arleigh gave him one of her perfected death stares and then broke into a grin. I immediately loved Ned. Mom showed up a bit later after she had screamed and cried at every available agent. We then proceeded to go on the LONGEST RIDE HOME EVER! Ned never believed in driving over 35. He was never in a hurry to do anything unless it was getting out of a car that I was driving. He could do that pretty darn quickly. I have no idea what that was about.

Ned was a good guy. I’ll miss seeing his fist and hearing his growl when he was pretending to be mad. I’ll miss hearing him tell me to bite his butt. I’ll miss having him take fish off hooks for my kids and showing them how to make bamboo fishing poles. I’ll miss his smile. Ned was a kind man. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that Ned taught them to do something, drive a nail, cast a line or in Tye’s case just about everything that required any kind of mechanics. His patience knew no limits. The thing that impressed me the most was Ned’s willingness to forgive. Nothing riled him ever. He just quietly moved on. It’s something I should learn.

I’m back home now sleeping in the house he built with Mom and it’s far too quiet. (Maybe it’s my missing kids.) Ned was loved my his family and his community. He’ll be missed. The only thing that makes me happy right now is knowing he can cast that fishing line without any pain.

Right after Tye died Ned told me he had a dream. He was at a beautiful fishing hole. Tye walked up rubbing his hands laughing. Tye said, “I want you meet my buddy Noah. He’s got a joke to tell you.”

I hope you’re laughing and fishing with Tye and Noah. We love you Ned Bone. Aloha!