My husband and I had the opportunity to jet away last weekend to attend a gala in Texas. We’d just gone to a dinner hosted by the same non-profit group a few weeks prior, but it was at a local venue not too far from home. With how much we have going on, we always look forward to going out on dates when those chances pop up. We especially like going on away dates when we can find an overnight sitter for the kids. My Mom would be available to keep eyes on Ronan and his siblings for the 29 hours we’d be gone, so off we went.
When we’d gone to the local event, Ronan’s siblings watched him. I almost didn’t get to go to that evening dinner because Ronan hadn’t been feeling well the day before. He had a low-grade fever and was very tired. Even though the fever had broken, he was still more tired than usual. Ronan doesn’t tell us when he’s hurting, but when we see changes in his behavior we know something isn’t right. I’d already decided that I wouldn’t join my husband at the local dinner. But as quickly as Ronan’s fever came on, it went away. With no other worrisome symptoms, I changed my mind just minutes before we’d have to leave. Darting into a dress and heels, I got to join my husband at the event for a few hours.
Keeping in constant contact with the kids that night, it was a good decision to go. This would be the first time this group met in our area. While there, we mingled, we met new people, we reconnected with friends, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves supporting the organization as it established itself in the local region.
When we were invited to join the group again in Texas, one of my favorite places, I really wanted to go. Besides the opportunity to support them once more, we’d have the chance to meet up with my best friend from high school. She and her family live about 30 minutes from the venue. With someone ready to help Ronan and our other children, with time off from work, and with the cost of the trip covered also – a blessing for sure – every door was opening for us to go.
So, at 6:55am last Sunday morning, up, up and away we went!
We landed 30 minutes early, and I was just so excited. We were away. We were together. We had not just the gala to look forward to that evening but also a lunch out with a best friend forever. I couldn’t stop smiling. All was going so, so well.
Then, we turned on our phones.
Both my husband and my cell phone alerts were going off like rapid fire.
Ronan was sick. The fever he’d had a few days before we left returned. He hadn’t been sick since that last time I went out. This time, nausea came with the fever. Could the kids and my Mom handle whatever it was that was ailing Ronan?
Before we’d made it to the baggage claim area, I started to look for a return flight. I’d already mentally gotten back on the plane and driven the hour back to our house. I’d relieved my wonderful mother and the kids of their duties. In my head, I’d gotten Ronan everything he needed and went back to mothering everyone else. Surely I’d miss out on all the fun and fanfare the gala had to offer if I jetted back, but I was willing and even happy to go home. I could catch a 1:00, a 5:00, a 7:30 or a 9:00 flight back home. Easily, I could get back.
The biggest question was…did I need to go?
Mom said not to. She was confident she and the kids would handle everything.
I wasn’t sure though as I continued to scan return flight options.
The guilt of leaving all the things and all the people behind ate at me as we thought about what to do. Since we’d left so early that morning, I hadn’t had a chance to eat a full meal. We decided to head over to the hotel, grab coffee, a bite to eat and check in back home. Over that next hour, constant texts were sent and a phone calls were made. In that time also, the waves of nausea subsided. The fever soon broke, and Ronan began to sleep off whatever had come over him. He was going to be okay!
By the time I could’ve returned home, Ronan truly was fine. No fever, no tummy troubles, and back to his normal self.
I could finally relax again.
So, I did.
Since it was the last event of the year for the non-profit, it would be pretty big. It would also pretty fancy. Before we got dressed up, we had lunch at a Texas café with my best friend and her husband. Then we got to walk through the shops of the old main street of an old Texas town, which reminded me of the small town where my best friend and I went to high school. The memories of a simpler time washed over me. Recalling those memories made me smile. I continued to smile as we caught up on what her kids were doing and what my kids are doing. We talked about where life’s lead them as a family and where it’s leading us as a family. We shopped for souvenirs, grabbed coffee from a local coffee shop, and enjoyed the sunshine. It was only a few hours that we got to spend with them, but it was a gift to be with great, life-long friends.
Later that afternoon, before heading into the gala, we checked in with the kids and my Mom again. They were still doing fine and were happy to hear that we got to enjoy our afternoon out. I wanted them to be able to be in touch with us in case Ronan relapsed, but there was no need. He had a good afternoon also. He would have an uneventful evening, thankfully, too.
We, on the other hand, were about to step into an exciting evening.
We heard commanding speakers, ate an incredible meal, and witnessed a thrilling live auction. Generous supporters were so very generous and made an impact that will help military families in need. When the evening ended, we had the chance to continue to talk and enjoy ‘after-party’ drinks and socializing. I was exhausted, though, so it was off to bed for me.
It isn’t very often that I put on high heels and a new dress, but I am grateful each time I get to. It usually means that I’ve gotten to step away from my reality for a few hours. My reality can be a bit stressful. It can come with some unexpected moments and lately, unexpected sickness, too.
When I get to tiptoe out of the house, and as far away as Texas like I got to last weekend, I always count my blessings. It takes a lot of planning on my part to be able to go. For whoever steps into my shoes, it takes a lot of work on their part. This last time, it was my Mom who swooped in and helped keep the house running. Next time, it’ll be a friend who’s offered to keep eyes and ears on Ronan and the kids. I’m not worried too much about walking away from all the things and all the people again. Next time is right around the corner. It also involves another flight and includes going to another exciting event, one planned almost a year ago.
When I confirmed that I’d go, I wasn’t thinking that Ronan could get sick, like he did these last two times. I wasn’t calculating how very far away from him I’d be either. I was just happy for the opportunity for my husband and me to enjoy a night away. It’ll be just us again, like when we were a young dating couple. So many people have told us to go out on dates when we can. “You never want to lose each other. Life will get busy. The kids will demand your attention. But don’t ever forget to make time for each other.” That’s been hard to do. But because it is important to make time for each other, we do try to do that.
I’ll pray that the upcoming trip we have planned together is a success. I’ll pray that Ronan and the kid will be just fine this next time also. I’ll pray thankful prayers in advance for the people who’ve offered to help us watch the kids. If you’d like to pray with me for all of that, too, I’d be so very grateful.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
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