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Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

The kids’ passports arrived today. The ones we had to have expedited to us to ensure we’d get them in time – before our big trip.  The trip.  My dream trip – to Italy, France and England – all places I have never been.  I’ve been planning it for months (years really, if you count my dreams) and our departure date is less than 4 weeks away.  And now I think we can’t go.

I’m conflicted, torn, trying to figure out the “right” thing to do.  There is no easy answer.  It is all coming down to a gamble on the “What ifs” and it is becoming a gamble I am not sure I can make.

My mother is not doing well. Funny that 6 words can convey that much. But those 6 words speak volumes of what I’ve been going through lately, even explaining why the kids’ passports needed to be rushed; my head hasn’t been in the fun trip planning and preparation mode – it’s been in the managing a health crisis mode and riding that emotional rollercoaster every minute of the day.

Two weeks ago we moved my mother into a higher level of care at her retirement home.  Now there are people making sure she takes her newly-started medications and gets to meals. They assist her with showers and laundry and basically keep tabs on her.  I thought that might be just what we’d need to be able to slip out of the country for 2 weeks and celebrate our 10th anniversary (kids in tow) with this “trip of a lifetime.” I even joked with her that I didn’t want any funny business while I was gone…that I didn’t want something to happen to her while I was half a world away.  (As if she could control it in some way – well who knows, anything is possible, right?)

The truth of the matter is she has bad days and good days (although the good aren’t so “good” anymore).  She could live on this way for quite a long time, I suppose.  But currently her decline is rapid and who knows what the next few weeks ahead will bring?  I guess that is it – we just don’t know.  So you have to play the What If game with all the various scenarios, trying to figure out how you will feel and what you will do if x happens, or y happens, or God forbid z happens.

Some people go into the whole “you have to live YOUR life” routine.  That I shouldn’t be tied down – that we have booked this trip (non-refundable tickets of course, purchased ages ago, to get the best deal) and that she could live for another YEAR (or more!) this way.  Who is to say?  They remind me I can’t just put my life on hold.

Other people have asked me what my mother would want.  Wouldn’t SHE want me to take this trip, knowing how important it was to me, how much I had been looking forward to it?  After all, she is not the type to stand in my way.  Yeah, maybe if this was 1 or 2 months prior, but in some ways I feel we are passed that phase of it too.  It feels it has gone beyond merely what she wants or what I want.

I jump every time my phone rings, especially in the morning.  I have nearly flattened my son and knocked down my daughter trying to get there in time to read the caller ID.  If I’m at home, I can get to her place in less than 10 minutes – I can’t imagine being on the other side of the world and having these worries.

My husband brought up another way to look at it. “Pretend I just said to you ‘Let’s take a trip and go to Europe this summer!’ what would you say?”  I didn’t have to answer – we both knew what I’d say.  There is no way I would plan a trip like this NOW; when we began this process none of this had happened yet – this is all new, uncharted territory for us.  And yet he says the decision to stay or go is mine.  He’ll support it (and me) either way.

I think of the various possibilities (including her continuing to last in her present condition long after the trip would have come and gone).  I think of the money we’ll be charged in cancellation penalties and/or change fees.  I think of my trip of a lifetime and all the books I’ve bought and conversations I’ve had about where to go, what to see, and advice I’ve gathered along the way.  I think about how I’d feel if I came back in 2 weeks and my mom didn’t remember me by then.  Or how I’d react if something happened while I was gone.  One could argue that Europe will always be there, but my mom won’t. (Sigh – if only it were that simple).

How do you go about making this sort of decision?  Is it solely a matter of head versus heart, and if so which one comes out on top?

For now, the brand new luggage sits in the garage.  The travel books remain stacked in a towering pile on my nightstand.  The kids’ passports sit out on my desk.  It is as if they all wait to hear of my decision as well.   This Zen Mama Wannabe has no answer at the moment.  It is a gamble, with the highest of stakes; and I can’t help but wonder, is there any way at all to win the bet?

PostScript: This was originally published a month ago on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.  Since that time, a decision was made — and that was to go! Numerous factors were involved, but the biggest one is that my mom is doing “all right” at the moment.  Still good days and bad days, but currently she is stable enough for me to feel leaving for 2 weeks will be okay.  Heck, we all know it’s a crap shoot — I have studied the odds — now it’s really just down to Luck.

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One Response to “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?”

  1. LobotoME Says:
    July 14th, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Awesome that you decided to go! I have found that there are ALWAYS reasons not to (and things that arise that impact and impending trip) but that the experience the 4 of you will have will outweigh any concerns about leaving….

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