When I called her during the Superbowl, to remind her to weigh herself before we left, she told me something weird was happening with her vision. Everyone's right eye looked like it was washed out.
"Well, that's an interesting thing to happen to an artist who's about to go to paradise," I said.
A few hours later she called me from the emergency room.
"Darn my doctor," she said. "She wanted me to get it checked out. But nothing, nothing, nothing will keep me from getting on that plane tomorrow!"
An hour later, she called again. "I have to go in an ambulance," she said. "There's something wrong with my brain. The whole left side of my field of vision is color blind. I'm not allowed to go to Italy."
I didn't know what to do.
The next morning, "Pompeii" played on the radio: How'm I gonna be an optimist about this?
We both had trip insurance. I called to cancel Jenny's flight for her.
Jenny texted me: "What are you going to do?" I honestly didn't know. I wanted to be with Jenny. I wanted to take our trip. I talked to my husband and son. I talked to my friend in Rome. I talked to my parents. I still didn't know. I threw my iChing. It wasn't very helpful; I got 22. Pi / Grace. With no changing lines.
Grace has success. In small matters, it is favorable to undertake something.
Thanks oracle, but THIS IS NOT A SMALL MATTER!!!
I texted back: "I am going to come and see you."
On Monday at 2:40, when Jenny and I were scheduled to leave, I was driving across the Bay Bridge to the UCSF Medical Center to visit her in the ICU. In the waiting room, people were talking about taking Vaporettos in Venice. I wanted to throw something at them.
Jenny greeted me with a big smile, squinting her eyes against the painful light. She couldn't stand up without collapsing from pain, and medicine dripped into her wrists.
"I am so mad at my brain," she said.
"Thank God this happened last night and not when we were on the plane tonight," we both agreed.
"We'll just have to try again in the spring," she said.
But the tests had been inconclusive. It could be a tiny leak, it could be a flaw in the blood vessel design, brain tumor. It would be days before we knew, and if she had surgery, it could be many long months before she could travel again.
The visit with her was delicious—she craved oranges and I rubbed her sore head and we held hands—and we talked and talked. She gave me her blessing to go without her—but the next morning I was still undecided. I didn't know what the right thing to do was. I was filled with fear—fear of leaving her, fear of going alone—but Jenny helped make it clear.
"I, apparently, need to be here with tubes in my groin," she said. "What do you need to do?"
I needed to go. I had moved heaven and earth to extricate myself from my busy, overcommitted, hyperactive life. And so did so many people. Especially Jenny, who gave me the courage to buy the ticket, to put it on the calendar. I was packed. And especially my son, who didn't want me to give up on my dream. I had to show him that a person could cry her eyes out, bang on the floor, then make a decision and act on it. We are Can-Do-Cavens.
|It's what they're wearing in Milan.|
"So what are you going to do, Kristen?"
I told her I was thinking about turning the trip around: I could fly into Rome and out of Venice, taking the train and bypassing Assisi and Florence. "I'll save those for you."
I told her how scared I was about traveling alone. "You'll be in Venice for Carnevale, now" she said. "You have to go to a party. Bring me back some good stories." I said I didn't want to go alone. "I'll pay for your ticket," she said. I laughed. She had already gotten me off my dime. I told her I would go into every church I passed and light a candle for her.
"What about our story?" I asked. "Should I blog about this?"
"Tell it all," she said.
When I left the hospital, the full moon was rising. The Leo moon. It was the moon that was to greet us on our arrival in Venice, right about now. Kristen and Jenny are still going to Italy. It's just that I'm traveling for two now.