There will be more stories to tell, but the story today is about what it means to love our woman-child María.
Last year, María ended up having to be Baker Acted—that is, checked into a psych unit by the police—when she lost it right before a much-anticipated hurricane that ended up being a non-event in Fort Lauderdale. For a host of reasons that had almost nothing to do with her actual state of mind, and so much more to do with the limitations and fragilities of even the best of systems and institutions that care for the vulnerable in a time of crisis, Maria ended up hospitalized for 13 days.
A couple of days after we got to California, Irma started registering on our ‘girl-radar’–that part of us that is always attuned to what comes next for María. We reached out to two people with access to a quality and level of meterological information that we knew we could trust. We’ve stayed in touch and this afternoon, as we were driving down towards Monterey, one of them just flat out said, “if it were my child I would see about getting her out sooner rather than later.”
We pulled off to the side of the road and began the work of turning around the good ship “Lindahl Mallow” so it could head way, way east, instead of a few more miles south. By the time we were done, we had reservations to fly out of San Francisco tomorrow, early in the morning. Sherod will go on to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow evening, pick up María and fly back to Atlanta with her on Wednesday. Meanwhile, tomorrow I’ll continue on to Montgomery to get our car out of the airport parking. I’ll drive to Atlanta on Wednesday, in time to pick up my peeps in the early afternoon and bring them home for dinner. We will watch, and wait, and especially pray, for the people we love and served through the years in SoFla.
All our other reservations for this vacation trip are cancelled and we are now at the airport Hampton Inn, waiting for early morning to arrive. I want to cry, but I can’t. The truth is, taking care of Maria is so much more of who we are and what we are about. We had four lovely days in Bodega Bay and today we made it all the way to Half Moon Bay on Hwy 1 before turning back; the Pacific shoreline is beyond beautiful. We stopped at the Point Reyes National Seashore and I was able to hike to the observation deck over the Point Reyes Lighthouse. I felt more than a small stirring of regret that I am not in good enough shape to try to venture down and back on a set of stairs equal to those of a 30 story building. But the hike I did get to take was fun and strenuous with a the wind blowing so hard if I stopped and relaxed at all, the wind pushed me around this way and that.
Life is good. Tough things happen. You’re sometimes faced with binary choices and only have a small window of time and limited information to make the call, so you do your best and don’t look back. My daughter will be safe, whether or not Irma blows through Southeast Florida (and Lord knows, I pray it will head up north and east and out to sea instead of wreaking its havoc anywhere). The glorious roar of the surf against the shore still rings in my ears. The pictures I got to take go with me, as do the bits and pieces I got to write, that will become more complete stories in the days and weeks ahead. And my husband is still my husband, now with us in our 30th year of marriage, and laughter found us again and again in these past 5 days. Love wins.