It was a quick trip across the state to Tampa. The Embassy Suites never fails to satisfy and we had beautiful weather, but the best part of the trip was that RA stayed home!
I’ve been gone for a while and I’m having the hardest time getting back to normal. My routine eludes me. Seems all I have the energy for is cleaning out my inbox(es). I collect not only emails, but email addresses. I’ve tried to downsize, keep to one, but people still send me mail where I prefer they didn’t. And by the time I check, they’ve mushroomed.
I need to get back to my reading, my writing, my work in general. I came home but my mind is still making its way to me. Part of it stayed in California with my father-in-law, who is dying. Today finds him in an intensive care unit. That much closer to over there than to over here. As much as I try to stop the images from forming in my head, I can see all the flustered activity around him. A once robust man, he is down to a mere 110 pounds, slowly disappearing.
And parts of my mind, my thoughts, remain with my infant granddaughter. After two weeks in Los Angeles, I flew across the country to home and the very next day flew backwards to the middle of the country. The thought of spending a week with her gave me the adrenalin shot I needed to get back on a plane so soon.
Uber jet lag, mollified only by the thought of spending my days with my little angel. Days that began at 6:30 am, a shock to the non-morning person that I am. At nine months, she is busy exploring how much she can do on her own, how long she can stand unsupported, how quick Abuela will run when she cries.
I didn’t realize how tired I was till I got home and began waking up several times a night wondering what bed I was in. What room was I in? What house, what town, what state? I’ve never suffered such disorientation before. It was quite eerie. Like being in your own horror movie.
But now I’ve been back a week and I have to get a move on. I promised a quilt. Due in one week. Yikes!
I had an epiphany this morning. I woke up as I usually do, with my youngest child on my mind. She is far from home and worrying about her comes as natural to me as breathing. She was hoping to come home for Christmas, but that won’t be feasible. That in itself is disappointing, and though I miss her dearly I can deal with it.
What I do have trouble with is the fact that she is living all alone in New York City. These past months I have made several attempts to get her to come home, but she is bound and determined to stay there and try to make it into the journalistic world. Free room and board is not enough to entice her; she’d rather rough it up there, working at whatever she can find while she keeps “writing on the side.”
I’m glad she’s writing, and though at this point the publications she writes for don’t pay, at least she’s adding to her portfolio. I suppose I could romanticize her present status and think of her as a starving artist, but the starving part doesn’t sit very well with me. Besides, she’s already tiny enough that a stiff breeze could blow her away.
I try to convince myself that she is all right; that she is an adult now, capable of making her own decisions. I tell myself that I don’t need to hear from her daily, that I don’t have to wait up for her to text me she’s safe in her room anymore. I remind myself that I must keep my stress level in check, that RA loves any and all enablers. And RA has had its way with me for long enough.
And then this morning it hit me. Why am I worrying about her walking the streets of New York when she’s walked the streets of Casablanca, Tangier, Accra, Cape Town, Penang, Ho Chi Min City, Hue City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, Delhi, Tokyo, Yokohama and Puntarenas during her Semester at Sea voyage around the world? And before that were the streets of Paris and Amsterdam during her European trip, which seems so long ago I barely remember the other countries on the itinerary besides Germany and Norway.
Added to that are the four years she spent trekking up and down busy Commonwealth Avenue attending university in Boston. There was no set apart campus there; she was right smack in the middle of the big city. And how can I forget the months she spent roaming the entire country by car the summer she was twenty, accompanied by three other twenty-year-olds. If she could handle driving the L.A. freeways, something I couldn’t get myself to do when I lived there, what exactly am I worried about?
She’s logged more miles than the rest of her family put together and at this point only Australia, South America and the North and South Poles lack her footprints. She has no fear of new places, meeting new people or of being alone. Her school teachers weren’t off the mark when they noted that she was self-directed and self-sufficient in her yearly reports.
She’s known to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to and her wish now is to become a travel writer. I suppose she has compiled more material during her 22 years than most people will in a lifetime. I have to say I don’t know anyone else quite like her.
“She’s different, isn’t she?” my son said to me while I visited him last month.
“Yes,” I responded. “She is.”
After having spent the last four weeks traveling, to the country in the Deep South and then to the southernmost point of the country itself, I’m tired. Tired but grateful I was able to spend time with my family, and time away from the rut and routine one falls into. Almost without noticing.
These photos serve to remind me not to forget. That life is rich, if you make it so.
While my turkey roasts, and the cooking smells suffuse my house, I am able to enjoy a few minutes of quiet before my kids descend on me. And gives me time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Something I try to do every day, give thanks that is.
It’s five o’clock in the morning and I’ve been awake for hours. Thinking, thinking, thinking. And there is a lot to think about. There is always a lot to think about, isn’t there? And the more you think, the more stressed you feel.
Stress is an aggravator, especially to someone with a chronic condition like RA. Over the years, I have noticed that stress exacerbates my symptoms. Of course, I blame stress for triggering my disease in the first place. Maybe I was predisposed to develop this, but I tend to feel the stress I lived under brought it on so early in my life.
I have come to terms with the fact that I have this cross to bear. It has become lighter in the past few years and for that I am grateful. Realizing that others have it so much worse, makes me feel like giving thanks every hour on the hour. And I do give thanks, for my wellness.
This morning it is not my RA that has me in knots, but my child. My child is going away. She is going around the world. And it scares the living daylights out of me. She chose as her study abroad to actually go abroad, a round the world cruise.
I tell myself it is the opportunity of a lifetime. I would have jumped at this chance myself. But, I would have been the one enjoying it, not the one left behind to worry. Big difference!
I will try not to worry, easier said than done. For now my days will be filled with getting her ready to go. There are supplies to be bought, packing to do, flight to book, and excursions to plan. She is excited and I am terrified.
I know that every day my stress will increase a notch, till it reaches its peak on the day she flies away to another country to board the ship. Part of me hoped her financial aid would not come through, though she would have been devastated and in truth, I would have been as well, for her.
But, the fates have aligned. She wants to be a travel writer and this trip will fill her bucket list, as far as fodder for writing material for years to come. I am happy for her, I am.
She will keep a journal of her adventures and I will keep a journal of my days waiting for her return. While she is seeing the Great Wall and the Taj Mahal, I will be envisioning her joy. But, while she is riding camels in the desert and shark cage diving in the deep, I will be home biting my nails.
My various writing projects will keep me busy; Tai Chi and exercise will help me ablate the stress, but there’s no getting around it. It’s gonna be a long four months.