It was the December 16th. Maria had just gotten the call, threw a few essentials into her suitcase and headed for the airport to fly home immediately. Seeing other passengers at the terminal wearing Santa Claus hats and hearing Christmas music in the background seemed out of place and disorienting. As Maria stood in line waiting to board the plane, the woman behind her said in an all too cheery voice: "Are you going home for the holidays? You must be so excited." In a not so jovial tone, Maria blurted out, "No, I'm going home for a funeral."
As Maria broke down in tears, her dumbfounded fellow traveler mumbled "I'm so sorry," and quickly turned to check her boarding pass. Maria reached for her phone, called a friend and for the first time said the words aloud, "My mother died. I feel so lost and alone."