Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Worrying about this trip, part 1

It feels a little cruel that I have so much anxiety about this trip when travel is one of my favorite things. Here I am going somewhere I love, and I am in knots about it.

I mentioned something superstitious yesterday: my mother's siblings have died in pairs. One uncle and one aunt died three months apart, and another two died a week apart. (Technically there were also two who died in childhood, but separated by a few years.) They didn't necessarily go in the pairs that you would expect, like older ones going together, or ones who were especially close going together, but you notice. When grief comes that close together, you notice.

(Debbie Reynolds dying so soon after Carrie Fisher may have messed me up in this regard.)

There are only two left now: my mother and her oldest sister, who will turn 95 this summer. They are especially close; my aunt was like a second mother to my mother. I don't know how well my mother would do without her. And, my aunt kind of feels like she has lived too long.

She hasn't just taken special care of my mother, but she has been the one who was there for everyone, not having children of her own. She has been without her husband for a long time, and she has seen beloved brothers and sisters who were younger leave her behind. She recently fell and broke her femur. Falls are not good for the elderly.

The trip had been scheduled before that happened, because I felt like they really needed to see each other again, and I was already starting to worry about time. One thing I had done differently is booked a hotel, because - after checking with a cousin - it felt like we would be too much work for her. (You can intend to not be work, and tell her not to worry about things, but she will still worry.)

Still, I thought that would be okay. We could stay at the hotel at night, but then visit her each day. There had been talk (and some pressure from her in-laws) of her moving into a home for seniors. Maybe we could help her with some sorting and packing. Or, if their visiting was going well, maybe I could sometimes leave them and go do a little sightseeing of places I was rushed through before.

Now my aunt is in a rehabilitation facility. We can still visit her, but I suspect we won't be able to do very long visits. Being there is still really important, but it will be different. I don't think there will be much me time, but the odds of that were always pretty good.

Also, I keep remembering things from our last trip. Although that was long before she started forgetting old things, there was a moment of disorientation on the plane. She asked something about where she lived, and I told her Aloha and she told me I was joking - she didn't live in Aloha. Then a few minutes later she realized I was right.

I attributed it to being confusion between her old home and her current one, and that didn't repeat. Instead the memory problems while there were more not being able to keep straight how long we had been gone, or how much time we still had left. Also she kept forgetting that the airline had lost her bag, which came up every time she wanted to change clothes or moisturize. (We can each bring one bag with no additional fees, but I am still toying with the idea of carry-on only.)

This time, she is someone who gets confused about where she lives and how many kids she has while looking at them, and I don't know if the disorientation will get worse. Maybe touching base with her past will help, but it might not and I don't know.

Those are just concerns about being there, and not about getting through connections and security, where her knee replacements always set off metal detectors and the beeping and the instructions just confuse her.

That gets to another area of concern. If all goes well, I will write that in advance, and post it Monday before we leave for the airport. I do not feel capable of predicting whether all will go well right now, at least in terms of maintaining daily blog and song posts.

What I do know is that it has felt good to express these dark feelings. I have written them in my journal, but it also helps to be public. These are my fears, and like most fears they have varying degrees of probability, but I own them.

The other thing that I have to reaffirm is that I still believe this trip is the right thing. I can imagine hastily booking after the fall - the urgency I felt before being replaced with desperation - and spending at least another $700 on plane tickets, plus who knows how much on the hotel. If I am going down scary roads, I am still being led.

That is an encouraging thought.

No comments: