The trip blog post that was skipped. Coming to grips with things being out of order. Baby steps of returning to life patterns from “The Before Times” and creating new patterns and behaviors. As Covid19 vaccination rates increase, as June in Seattle gives us so many hours of glorious daylight, as we’re slowly feeling hopeful, I decided it’s time to return to this silly blog. Because end of 2019 I discovered that I had MISSED documenting a weekend trip from Sept 2019. It should’ve been posted Before the Vegas Birthday in October. But everything was still topsy turvy as my personal world had shifted on its access (with my parents both dying in September), and I was undecided how I wanted to “fix” things on the blog. And then we entered Season One of Covid. (A show that we truly thought would only have one season, rather than 5 seasons and a movie! SARS-CoV–2 was going after that syndication money!). And so, here I am, a year and a half later, going to write up a re-cap and post it. I’m sort of excited about it. Not sure who, other than my parents and a few pals, ever read these. But that’s okay. This has always been more for my own enjoyment. This website started as a cool replacement for the stream-of-consciousness email updates I’d send to family/friends. But as home life got more and more demanding, they morphed into rambling re-caps sent weeks (months) after I got back. Although a June 2021 update on a September 2019 trip is definitely the LONGEST gap between travel and writing. We’ll see what I remember, eh?
August 2019 was a pretty brutal month. Not only was I still the primary caregiver for two terminally ill family members while also working 2 people’s jobs running a company, but a late night emergency room visit brought some unwelcome medical news for my own self. I had kidney stones, and it was big enough that I might need surgery. The doctor was hopeful I’d be able to pass it on my own, but was uncertain. She gave me some dire warnings and a bunch of prescriptions for what the future might bring. Plus, my elderly cat (who I had had since University) had a stroke. Poor thing started stumbling around in circles, very disoriented. Pressing her head against the wall. Falling into her water dish and leaving little wet kitty pawprints in circles. After some recumbent care, it was determined that it was her time. Everything sucked pretty hard.
Enter my college roommate Christine. I am forever grateful for the amazing people in my life. Truly, I am so lucky in my community of genuinely kind, funny, smart, caring people. Christine’s a doctor, saw my post about the kidney stones, called me right away and asked to come over. She herself had kidney stones a few years previous. She arrived with hugs, laughter, some herbal tinctures and apple cider vinegar. Lots of support and advice. And mostly, she just listened for an hour, sat on the couch, as I shared my worries and my woes and my sadness. Dead cat, kidney stones, helping my parents, and running the business. “Sounds like you need a getaway,” she says. I agree, but am not sure practically how that would work. She invites me along on this September weekend to Suncadia (mountain resort in Washington). “Let’s spend two nights, just relaxing, wandering the woods, breathing deeply, reading books, eating good food.” It sounded perfect! It was a bit of a scamble on my end, but I scheduled other family able to help out for that weekend (and a dear pal to take care of my dog) so I can get away. And then my dad unexpectedly passed away. *record scratch noise* We have the Irish Catholic version of Sitting Shiva, as family and loved ones visit over those first two days. I effectively move in with my mom, staying at the house as caregiver while we are all shell-shocked, making necessary plans, and trying to imagine the future.
It’s determined that I can and also Should still do my getaway to the mountains (I haven’t slept in my own bed for 10 days. And what was initially a “sorry about your dead cat/kidney stones trip” now has even more weight on it). So leaving mom in the capable care of my older sister, Christine drives us into the Cascade Mountains. And Christine was a wonderful companion: comfortable and supportive when I wanted to talk about it, and also perfectly respectful and fine when I wanted to talk about anything but “it,” or when we just sat in silence. Plus she’s got excellent DJ skills, so we were often surrounded by great tunes! Mexican food and margaritas en route.
Arriving late night to our cute room. The morning offers sweeping views of the forest.
A big breakfast with lots of Christine’s friends. Great rambling walks through the area. Nice swimming pool (with water slides!). Reading in lounge chairs (with umbrellas so I can hide my vampire-like delicate skin from the sunshine). Heading into town for some very good BBQ.
And distillery tastings. Good conversations.
Relaxing in the hotel room. Lots of tears. Finally being ready to write that strange social media post, announcing your lost loved one. More outdoor explorations. Getting dressed up for Christine’s work banquet. Finding out one of the other doctors (who has attended this before) snuck a BOTTLE of wine in her purse into the event. Keep in mind, wine was being provided for free. But she tells us, “It’s not very good wine.” I laugh. And after Tasting the Free Wine, I have to agree. Rough stuff! So we were all super grateful to get to share a delicious glass with our meal.
There’s something magical about those people in your life who have known you for a very long time. There’s a Short Hand to your interactions. Even if you don’t interact frequently, when you do hang out, it feels like no time has passed. A very amazing thing. It’s a magic trick for which I’m forever grateful. And there’s an ease in conversating about Big Things, because they know all the backstory. They were there for so many of your formative experiences. They know your family. They’ve watched and cheered at your triumphs and cried with you over your losses.
It was truly such a blessing to have had this trip already scheduled (because there’s no way I would’ve considered booking it otherwise, with that timing). But it was perfect. Denial (or maybe more accurately, Compartmentalization) has always been one of my favorite coping skills. And I’m very good at triage during crisis-mode. But having this forced change of scenery. Having a space where the overwhelming grief and ramifications might not be at the Forefront of every waking moment. Moments to breath. Safe spaces where I can just feel my feelings, where I’m not responsible for caretaking, where I don’t have to be on hyper-alert. It was just a wonderful 48 hours. Thank you, Cascade Mountains. Thank you, Margaritas and BBQ. Thank you, reading poolside. Thank you, my family. Thank you, my friend. As the silly Roslyn Café sign says, this weekend provided an emotional Oasis.