Funny how your life can change – how you end up doing something that you never thought you would do or, for that matter, could do. Such is my life at this time.
Four years ago I quit my full time job in Colorado to pursue my dream of traveling the world, photographing it and writing about my adventures. My hope was to earn a living at this. I moved back into my parents home, temporarily, (my childhood home in the suburbs of Cincinnati) and prepared for my first long term trip. I left for Turkey at the end of April. I was free as the wind with no plans beyond Turkey. I was happy. I fell in love with this country, then went to other places on my bucket list – the Greek Island of Santorini, Venice, the Dolomites in Italy then back to Turkey because I loved it so much. My folks, though around 80 at the time, were doing well. I loved not being rooted, not being tied down. It suited me, this letting the wind take me wherever.
After a few months, the money started to dwindle so I came back home to sort it all out. I realized that maybe I wasn’t going to be able to make the money I needed from just photography and writing, at least not yet. I began working a couple of part time jobs, and taking an online course for becoming a travel agent. I toyed with moving back to Colorado or somewhere else out west. Cincinnati never felt like home to me.
Then two years ago everything changed. My mom was diagnosed with something called pulmonary arterial hypertension(PAH). There is no cure. It is simply “managed”. At the age of 80, her life was turned upside down. She was put on oxygen 24/7, could no longer go out on her own, and became more frail. Though she could still take care of herself, do things around the house, and go out to enjoy time with family and friends (albeit with a few accessories), she became more dependent on me and my dad. It’s been heartbreaking. It has altered life for not only her, but the entire family.
Now two years later, though my mom is still with us, she is declining. She’s been in and out of the hospital a couple of times over the past few months, battled pneumonia and is simply tired of it all. She’s done with hospitals and treatment. I don’t blame her. So, we are preparing for the end, keeping her comfortable and as happy as one can be at this point.
I took a trip to Switzerland and Italy last autumn. Mom was reasonably okay at this point. I just needed to do what I do – wander. So, I planned an 11 week trip, wondering if it was too long. It was. I cut it short. I couldn’t be away from my parents that long. I sensed the time with my mom slipping away. The world could wait. The time with my mom could not. That carefree feeling was no longer there for me as I traveled. Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoyed my time. I met wonderful people. I took beautiful photos. I had incredible experiences. But, I felt a tug at my heart that hadn’t really been there before. A tug at my heart telling me to get back home with my parents – with my mom.
Sometimes I miss the girl who took off four years ago on her first long term trip. I want to be her again at times – to be that carefree. But, the fact is, I’ll never be her again. I miss her. I mourn for her. However, I know that what I am experiencing now is making me a different person, one that I am meant to become – more patient, more compassionate, more loving.
I’m still a girl who travels. I’m a born wanderer after all. But for now, it’s more important for me to be a daughter. I’m a girl who wants to cherish every single moment she has left with her little mama. The world will be there. And I’ll be back out there exploring, photographing, experiencing – eventually. In the meantime, I’m here with my mom and my family, making the most of the time …