Words are failing me
good thing I have this space
I’m thankful for writing today because my voice is shot. I try to speak and barely anything comes out, apart from a whisper, even though I’m definitely not trying to whisper. A long road trip from Sonoma to Pismo Beach with my mom where I probably said too much—not in that way—is what did it.
Later she asked me, “Don’t you talk during Zoom calls all the time, though?”
“I do,” I said. “But not for six hours straight.”
We hadn’t been in the same vicinity as each other since November. I mean, sure, we talk on the phone often, but that’s different than being in the same room—or car. Apparently, we had a lot to catch up on. But, seeing as I’m the only one of us without a voice right now, maybe it just means I talked too damn much.
We had made these plans months ago during the holidays. My brother Owen and his family already had a camping trip planned in the area. The original plan was for my whole family—my mom, my wife Allison, stepdaughter Sara, and daughter Em—to drive together. Some unexpected things happened that I won’t get into and the plan had to change to only my mom, Em, and me making the drive.
It was going to be my first road trip taking care of Em without Allison there. And I was excited about it. Partially to prove to myself that I could do it since Em’s cerebral palsy disability makes just about everything challenging. But also to give Allison a break from caretaking. She has rarely been able to get time for herself since Em was born beyond going on a walk, her regular swim sessions, or the—if I recall correctly—two different weekend trips she’s taken to her parent’s cabin while I stayed home with Em. We were going to have our own hotel room in Pismo and some fun father/daughter time.
But then Em got sick.
We’re way more careful than the average family, for both Em’s sake and the sake of other kids at her preschool that have even more complicated medical issues (including tracheostomy tubes). And yet, she still got sick. And I became irrationally upset about it. In those moments, it feels like we can never make concrete plans because something invariably derails them. It makes it difficult to look forward to anything on the calendar, since it seems like every time I let myself get excited, I end up having my hopes dashed.
But still, I was tempted to plop Em in the car and take her anyway. She seemed a bit better and her fever had subsided. Allison—rightly—said I should put how Em is feeling ahead of my desires, which is difficult because Em is non-verbal and can’t tell us how she feels. Instead, we have to rely on data like her temperature or decipher other clues like her general demeanor. While attempting to make my case for how Em could still come on the trip, I laid her down on her bed. We kept chatting and a couple of minutes passed. Allison leaned over to look at Em’s face and she said, “Her eyes are closed.”
And that’s when the trip got whittled down to just my mom and me.
Don’t get me wrong, the trip has been great.
We stayed at a place right on the beach where Allison’s dad has taken Sara in the past:
We drove out on the beach in Owen’s truck. Then watched his kids play in the sand while our mom made an art project out of sticks, rocks, and shells. We saw a hermit crab.
Later on, we went to their campsite. Owen barbequed some incredible steak that legit tasted like candy. And we finished off the evening—about an hour before I’m writing these very words—by making smores over a fire pit. Classic camping stuff.
It was a nice visit—even with my deteriorating voice.
Em has her spring break next week, so my mom and I are possibly maybe tentatively considering the possibility of making plans perchance for a short trip somewhere closer to home with just Em and us.
But I don’t want to get my hopes up yet.
When this piece publishes on Saturday morning at 8:08 am PT, we’ll soon be making our way back up the California coast. Got any good podcast recommendations so I don’t feel the need to talk so much?
My first coaching clientwas kind enough to write up some very flattering words about my writing and coaching in this piece on his Substack:
I’ve since worked with a few more people and they’ve gone quite well too. And now I’m ready to bring on more clients.
You can learn more about my pay-what-you-want (including free) coaching at lyle.coach
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