“You should come with me,” he said. “I just booked a flight this morning.” It was Eric on the phone, a week ago.
(Shockingly) I burst into tears. Being that spontaneous was not something I thought I could do.
Not right now.
After all, I take my mom to chemo on Fridays. I’d also have to make arrangements for the girls to spend a couple of extra days with their dad. Then there was the dog….an eighty pound, lovable but bullish lab with an insatiable, adventurous and unpredictable appetite. There’s no way I can leave him anywhere but at the boarding place, and they’d definitely be full at this point. I’d also have to find coverage at work, and flights during Thanksgiving weekend would be insanely expensive.
And, and, and…the wheels spun.
It all seemed impossible, and somehow even irresponsible. Still, I said, “Let me think about it. I really want to say YES.”
That was true – I really wanted to go…to escape life for a few days. The idea of surprising Lynette for her birthday had me overcome with emotion. I knew it would mean the world to her to have both of us there to celebrate her big 4-0. She’s in a new city 3000 miles from home…3000 miles away from almost everyone she loves.
Then everything seemed to fall into place. My mother doesn’t need me to be the one to take her every week to her infusion, that’s just pressure I have placed on myself. Taking her allows me to feel as though I am doing something in situation in which I am entirely helpless. So many other people have offered, something my mother quickly pointed out. The girls were all set to stay an extra couple of days with their dad. The boarding place said they’d make room for Louie. I got coverage at work, and with mine and Eric’s airline miles I got a $760 ticket for $8.11.
I was going to California…in a week.
This morning I woke up in my mother’s house with the girls, having spent the night there on Thanksgiving. I’m not going to lie, it only took me a few minutes, lying there in bed before the anxiety started to kick in. What if something happens to me and they don’t have me to take care of them? What if something happens to them while I’m away?
The more I lose – the more it is demonstrated to me that I have no control – the more anxiety shows up for me. Over the past couple of years the lessons in loss and powerlessness have been pretty intense. I wish I could say that I have been able to relax into this awareness that I am not in control. I wish I could just allow life to unfold around me and to observe it without the little voice that whispers in my ear, “What if, what if, what if?” (Or at least train the voice to whisper that in an optimistic tone?)
If anything, life has taught me that the things that really knock the wind out of us are the things we never see coming…like the fact that your ex-husband is actually your ex-wife, or that the loved one you had dinner with the night before has collapsed and will never again wake up, or that cancer is growing inside someone you love – someone who looks and feels perfectly healthy.
You’d think by now I’d have been able to let go of the idea that I control the narrative…or frankly, that I have any idea what my story is even about. My story seems a bit like my brain sometimes – unable to figure out which direction to go in….there are so many options!
Life is sort of like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, isn’t it? I loved those as a kid. In each chapter you get to decide which way to go. You come to a dramatic situation, and you have to decide…
To stow away on the boat turn to page 23,
To continue on horseback with your guide turn to page 45,
To return to the center of town to search for the lost map turn to page 76…
You get to choose which way to go, but you don’t get to decide what will happen when you get there. All you can do is choose a direction and hope for the best.
I don’t ever want to stop choosing my next adventure…certainly not because of fear, or anxiety, or lack of imagination. So California, here we come.
Here’s my favorite part of this particular adventure (in case you hadn’t put this together from my post last weekend) –
Lynette and I, our birthdays are six days apart. While Eric and I were planning this trip to surprise her for her birthday, she had already booked a flight home to surprise me for mine…which she did, a week ago. She flew across the country to celebrate with me, and now we are doing the same thing for her.
That is true love.
If you ask me, there is no greater reason to embark on adventure than that.
[Caution – the canary has a potty mouth.]