Every intersection in the road of life is an opportunity to make a decision.
~ Duke Ellington
"So you decided to leave in the morning?" Tom asked when he arrived home from work yesterday evening and I was still sitting at the computer.
"I don't know! I'm still trying to decide!"
He rolled his eyes.
I was heading to my mom's to see my sister Brenda and help my parents move furniture and whatever else needed to be done to prepare for her release from the hospital in a few days. I hoped to stay long enough to help them with the transition from hospital to home care following her hip surgery, so didn't plan to head out until this morning. More time with Tom, less traffic plus daylight driving. A no-brainer.
And then my friend Mark's brother died. Trey's memorial/celebration of life was scheduled for last night. I wanted so bad to be there for him, but realized it would be early evening before I could even get away from my house, making for a late evening arrival, possibly hitting two cities' worth of Friday night traffic jams. Tom couldn't go with me, and of course, he had concerns about me driving that late at night, worried about me getting tired.
It really wasn't practical to go. Mark had already told me he understood if I couldn't make it.
Then my oldest son called, telling me he might stop by the house on his way into town - he and his girlfriend are running the Capital 10K on Sunday, but they would be staying in South Austin. He probably wouldn't come by ... but he might, and that's usually all this mother's heart needs to stay put, just that slim chance of laying eyes on him for a moment.
But still ...
... Mark and Trey had been like little brothers to me. I'd take them on picnics out to the San Jacinto Monument ... I'd take Trey to the skateboard park, and while he zipped around on the concrete hills, I'd wait in my car, reading. I'd invite Mark to tag along with me to Galveston, when his older brother Chris, my boyfriend, had better things to do.
Even after Chris and I broke up, Tom and I kept in touch with Mark and Trey. They came to our engagement party with their mom ... we took Trey camping ... Mark brought his dad to our house in Lago Vista shortly before his death. Once or twice a year I'd get phone calls from both Mark and Chris.
The last time I saw Mark and Trey was at Chris's funeral several years ago.
Since then, they had also lost their mother. She and I had remained very close - I knew she'd want me to be there for Mark now.
What to do? What to do?
And then I read it ... one of the quotes I keep taped near my computer:
If we are ever in doubt about what to do,
it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.
~ John Lubbock
Within an hour I was packed and on the road.
I arrived at the gathering a little before 11pm; the look on Mark's face when he saw me, and the hug he gave me, would have erased any lingering doubts. But I didn't have any once my suitcase was out - I knew if I didn't go, it would be a gnat of regret, bugging me forever.
But there's more...
The memorial/celebration was just that, a celebration of life - mostly Mark's friends and high school classmates reminiscing, laughing, and even dancing, and then meeting at I-Hop for a late night/early morning breakfast.
So it was very, very late by the time I pulled into my parents' driveway. Their empty driveway. Huh? Where could they be? A flash of guilt leftover from high school crossed my mind - surely they weren't out looking for me!
I told them I didn't know what time I'd be in ... I have my own key and Mama said she'd just leave the light on for me ... I'll be 52 in a couple of weeks, for goodness' sake!
I checked my phone, tucked deep in my purse. Sure enough, there was a voice message from my mom...
"Don't worry when you see the empty driveway - Brenda had a bad reaction to Ambien and we had to go to the hospital to calm her down. She's okay, but where are you, little girl? You should be home by now!"
Always a mom. Sigh...
I let myself in and they arrived home a few minutes later. After hugs and a quick catch-up (Brenda had called them, saying there were strange people in her room and that she had been kidnapped!), we all said goodnight.
Early this morning, my phone rang. It was Brenda...
"Barbara, I'm being held captive."
"You're just having a reaction to Ambien, Brenda. Mama and Daddy were up there last night, remember? You're okay. You're in the hospital."
"No, that's just what these people told them. I don't know where they have me. I just wanted to tell you I love you and I'm sorry it came to this. I have to go."
Oh, crap. Oh, crap.
I tried calling her back and couldn't get through.
I threw on my clothes; I wasn't even going to take the time to shower ... I needed to get up there, fast. Mama was still asleep, worn out from the night's adventure. Daddy was worried about Brenda, but didn't want to leave Mama.
Before I could leave, she called again.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, I think, but I'll be better when family is here." She sounded so scared, so confused.
"I'm on my way."
Thank goodness, by the time I got there she was back to herself, and laughed about how it was a good thing she didn't know the numbers to the CIA or FBI (or Jack Bauer), or she would have called and reported her kidnapping to them, too!
And I thought, yeah, and it's a good thing I came in last night so I can be here for my sister this morning, and give my mom and dad a break.
(Update: Brenda has been released from the hospital several days earlier than expected. Maybe they were worried the FBI would be responding to a phone call or something... Nah, not really. She was just doing really good and now she's settled in here at my parents' house. Thanks to her church, she has a wheelchair, walker and potty chair to use until she's recovered. She has prescriptions for pain medicine, a blood thinner and antibiotics .. but no more Ambien! Please keep her and my parents in your prayers!)