I called my friend yesterday in a panic. "What should I do? What would you do? Arielle called and she's sick. She went to the clinic twice, received antibiotics and IV fluids. I should hop on a plane—right?" My friend knows me well. "What does Eric think?" "My husband, well he thinks we should tell her to go see a doctor. But she needs me. You would go—right? I know you would go."
My friend is my children's Godmother. I'm not catholic but it's my way of saying you're their second mother. If anything should happen to me, it's all on you. She's known my daughter,Arielle, since she was three and she was present when my son,Kai, was born. She loves them like a mother.
Question after question. She knows just what to ask in order to get to the truth of what is really going on inside my head. Her husband is in the medical field so she understands all about IV's and antibiotics. My friend is an expert at seeing both sides of a situation. Pros and cons of going and pros and cons of not going. All the while the underlying factor of me missing Arielle and trying to deal with my new identity of not being needed as much creeping into the conversation.
We feel the same. Her youngest just left for college leaving a very empty nest. Finally, her advice was to ask Arielle one more time if she wanted me to come to Illinois. Part of our new mother-daughter relationship is me respecting Arielle's wishes. And Arielle feeling comfortable enough with me to be honest about her feelings and not say what she thinks I want to hear. Like I wrote before—my children are not "mine."
My stomach was churning. I finished cleaning out my closet while I waited for Arielle to return my call. I had the travel website up. Three tickets to Champaign, Illinois were left. My friend called again to find out how Arielle was doing. "This sucks!" That's what we said to each other. This new worrying, wondering if they are okay, questioning what we should do in these uncharted parenting seas. "This sucks!" That was our conclusion. Followed by a rationalization that we have taught them well. They've had a wonderful childhood and now we must learn to parent differently.
Eric came home and my usual happy-go-lucky husband was stressed. While we cooked dinner together I went on and on about whether I should fly to Illinois. We tried to call Arielle on speakerphone. Nothing. She was still sleeping. Thoughts of her sick and in a dorm were haunting me. Knowing she wheeled herself to the clinic and was stuck several times with needles—torture. The what if's were endless. What if she got worse? What if she was so sick she couldn't get to the clinic? What if…
The phone rang. "It's her!" Eric and I took a collective breath. Arielle told me she felt better. "Well, you don't sound better. Maybe I should come out there?" A tiny laugh. "I just woke up. I'm okay."
I rattled off all the things she should be doing. Drink, eat, rest, and most importantly ask for help if you need it. Arielle assured me she was on the mend. She didn't need me to jump on a plane. I told her to thank her new friends for taking care of her. I hung up feeling… lost.
I feel as though I'm drifting, letting the waves of life crash over me. I feel as though a storm has destroyed all I've known for nineteen years and now I must set sail again but I'm stuck… shocked or scared, perhaps both. The wind is whispering for me to move forward but flashes of the past steal my attention. I'm fortunate to have friends by my side understanding exactly. Even if our mantra is, "This sucks!" at least I'm not alone at sea. I have my friends, shining beacons of light telling me the storm has passed, the sun has set on one adventure and it's time to raise my sails for the next.