A Passing & Changes
Paul is in Miami and my father is on his way home, so I think it’s finally time to tell you all how our lives have changed. It’s taken me over a month to gather my thoughts enough to write about this, much the same way it did after my own mother’s death two years ago. As a result the blog has fallen many weeks behind (and we’ve moved many steps forward), but such is life. In any case here we are now and here it is.
On July 23rd Paul’s mom died very suddenly.
In some ways it was not entirely unexpected. She had been in poor and declining health for a long time. Her kidneys failed several years ago, so she’d been on dialysis for multiple years with all the difficult complications that come thereof. It’s a hard and all-consuming existence that I would never wish on anyone.
Despite this her death wasn’t expected, mostly because we just didn’t expect it to happen just then. She’d been doing really well recently, in good spirits and stable health-wise. She even went to a dinner and music the night before her passing, having more fun than she’d had for a while.
Yet for all the medical miracles that kept her going it was her heart that gave out in the end, suddenly and abruptly. In that moment she was finally free of this earthly life and no longer in pain. For that part at least, I’m deeply relieved and happy for her.
Those of you that have had death in your lives know exactly what it feels like when you get that call.
No matter what the circumstance expected it not, it’s a heart-wrenching moment that breaks your life in two, much like a bird whose wings are clipped in mid-flight. One moment you’re cruising along the road of your mostly predictable earthly life and then suddenly your loft is gone. You plummet to earth and the world goes dizzy and black around you. And even before you have any chance of coming to grips with that surreal experience, you’re asked to deal with the horrible and complicated paperwork of death. Police, funeral home, casket, arrangements, death certificates and everyone calling you who wants to know what has happened. It’s crazy really.
Everyone goes through this transition, the natural path between life and death, absolutely everyone. But it doesn’t ever lessen the pain. It’s a personal challenge we all must face, at one time or another.
And I felt it too. Not everyone has the incredible luck that I did to marry into a family who accepts you so fully and completely. Paul’s mom loved me deeply and always told me she felt I was the daughter she never had, and truly I felt just as deeply for her! We were from very different cultures, the fiery Cuban and the independent Dane, but we loved each other in the very profoundest of ways. Her life was faced with so many challenges, yet she always held her head high and forged forward with the belief that things would get better. She was an amazing woman with incredible inner strength and I loved her positive spirit. I will miss her terribly.
Her passing has changed us, although it’s hard to say exactly what that means.
Paul’s mom was a proud woman, so we never mentioned her health on the blog (sorry to do so now, mom) but she was our tether and a core part of our life-plan for many years. We always planned our travels so Paul could fly home 3-4 times per year. Then as things progressed we discussed how to get closer. So this past Christmas we traveled East, organized a big family Christmas gathering in Miami and stayed on for a total of 6 months in the area. It was all for mom, and in retrospect I’m so very glad we did it. Perhaps instinctively we knew time was shortening, although we never really knew how long we had? Either way, those are now memories that we will treasure forever.
Then in April, after much discussion we decided to travel again with the caveat that we would stay East “just in case”, planning our route close to major airports. We had a few scares earlier in the year that almost caused us to turn the RV around, and Paul flew home for another good visit while we were in Washington DC at the end of May. But then things improved and seemed to go well again, in fact rather better than they had before. So we decided to keep going, planning another few flights home for Paul with the goal of going back down to Florida for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was all meticulously planned out, right up until we got that call.
For those who’ve been through the death of a family member you may understand when I say I feel we’ve lost our anchor. The rope has been cut and we suddenly feel like we’re floating dangerously and without purpose. In the space of two years both our moms have passed and it’s incredibly destabilizing. I know we aren’t special or unusual in this respect, but everyone experiences their grief differently. We suddenly feel like we need to re-anchor and re-connect to the earth.
What does that all mean exactly?
Honestly we don’t know. We’re here in Maine in a nice spot so we’re going to finish out our month, but then I think we’re going to change plans. Although we had bookings in Florida for all of this coming winter season, neither of us feel ready to go back there right now. Plus we feel we need time away to grieve and heal, just the two of us. So, we’ve decided to ditch our Eastern plans and head back out West.
This was the same idea we had earlier in the year, but decided to change based on everything going on. Now we feel it’s necessary. We want to re-root, re-find our balance and decide what’s next. Do we keep RVing the way we have up until now? Find a spot of land to create a home-base and part-time RV? Stay in the US or go abroad? Change things up entirely and do something completely different? At this point we really don’t know, but we do feel that something has to change.
For now my dear blog readers, things are not going to alter much except for our direction this winter. We’ll drive West, finish out the year and then decide. It’s all part of the progress of life, such as it is and we must be prepared to flow with it. More than that I do not know.
In the meantime it’ll be mom in our thoughts. Her life, her positive spirit and everything she so selflessly gave us out of love for the short time on earth we had with her. This week Paul is in Miami for the memorial service while I’m here in Maine with the paws, but mom is with us both in spirit, dancing to some Cuban salsa and traveling with us forever more in our hearts. It may be a while before we meet again, but I know we will. RIP Estela. You will be most deeply missed.