A Nana Ponders: When Will I See You Again?
I was spoiled.
My first grandbaby, Blakely Faye, was born in August. I was there, holding her only hours after my daughter’s nearly twenty-hour labor. I was able to see the precious little one in October for Halloween and again for Thanksgiving and yet again for her first Christmas.
At first glance, that schedule may not appear unusual. However, for our family, getting together is no small feat.
Blakely Faye lives 3000 miles away. And I am in a wheelchair.
Paralyzed from the waist down from a rare inflammation of the spinal cord, transverse myelitis, I’ve used a wheelchair for nineteen years. Travel is doable, but requires detailed planning and advance work, so I’ve learned to cherish every minute of family time together.
After Blakely Faye’s December visit, I delighted in sharing as many photos and stories about her as my friends could stand.
Until that question came. The one I had no answer for.
“When will you see her again?”
I smile hard each time, but for the life of me I can’t stop the tears. “I don’t know,” I whisper and quickly change the subject.
Still, it’s the undeniable truth. And for me, a person whose life is built on structure and schedules and plans, it is a hard answer to give, much less to embrace.
What do you do when you don’t know what’s next? When you can’t plan despite all the best intentions in the world? When your orbit of life is outside the spinning world of someone you love and care about?
I like what author and Professor Susan Shapiro says in her Next Avenue essay, “Love in the Time of Facebook Algorithms.”Although the context of her advice is for those seeking clarity in their relationship status, her suggestion applies to any confusing situation, anytime we are obsessed with something beyond our control.
She says simply, “When in doubt, do your life.”
I like that.
Blakely Faye will be going through a lot of transitions. Her parents are changing jobs. Relocating to another city. Packing, moving, and adjusting to a new community with a six-month-old will be challenging enough. They certainly don’t need one more pressure from me about when I will see them again.
So, I’ll do my life.
My writing time has increased. So has my girlfriend time and my social time in the community and online. I’m trying not to miss my little Blakely Faye. Trying not to obsess over when I will see her again. Trying not to wonder what I’m missing.
Group texting helps. FaceTime helps. SnapChat helps—although I wonder if the SnapChat police are going to come after me because of all the screenshots I’m taking. And her parents are vigilant about keeping me updated on all the firsts that I’m missing, capturing most on camera or video.
I’m also getting my wheelchair tuned up and ready in case a trip is ahead. And making sure the house is baby-proofed for whenever the next visit is planned.
How about you? What helps you get through times of uncertainty when you can’t plan? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.
Becky (Nana B)
Rebecca Faye Smith Galli is a freelance writer and columnist who has faced continuing challenges in extraordinary ways. In 1997, her busy life as a dedicated community activist and mother of four children—two of whom had special needs—was dramatically affected by paralysis fromTransverse Myelitis, a rare inflammation of the spinal cord.
Reflecting on these and other life-altering circumstances, Becky’s freelance publishing career began in 2000 with an op-ed piece for theBaltimore Sun. She has written over four hundred columns on family life and resilient living including ” From Where I Sit,” slice-of-life musings for a Baltimore Sun weekly, ” Looking Homeward,” a continuation of her father’s column for Huntington, West Virginia’s Herald-Dispatch, ” Tuesdays with Madison,” reflections of parenting an adult daughter with autism for www.autismafter16.com, and a weekly newsletter, Thoughtful Thursdays, Lessons from a Resilient Heart. She also periodically contributes to the Baltimore Sun’s Op-Ed page, Midlife Boulevard, and Nanahood.