Our 15-year-old granddaughter Olivia had been staying with us since the beginning of April. She ran away from home in very early March. It sounds silly but things were "okay" until the coronavirus lock-downs began. Her parents knew where she was (sort of) and she was in some sort of communication. When schools closed and her therapy sessions were suspended, it became a very scary situation. She agreed to come live with us. At least she would be with family and on an island with no place to run to.
After a short while, the island, in lock-down, became overly oppressive. She wanted to go back to the mainland. We were all pretty sure she just wanted back so she could run away again. She talked with her mother nearly every day. In a three-way conversation with her mom and her therapist, Olivia finally agreed to come home and stay home. Last Wednesday, we put her on a plane to Baltimore. Her mom picked her safely at the airport. When they got home, Olivia asked for a few minutes alone before she went in. Her mom said ok and went in the house.
Somewhere between Monday when she found out she was going back and Wednesday afternoon, she arranged for some one to pick her up with a car. Within five minutes she was gone. She never even got a foot in the door.
PANIC! She was in the wind and no one had any idea where. There were some indications she might be headed either to Virginia or New York with people who may or may not be adults. Police were called.
Because she continued to post on Instagram and to have limited contact with her mother, the police did not believe she was in trouble. There was no indication she was in danger. She was "just a run-away" which is not illegal.
Since then, she has continued contact with her mother. The belief is she is not far from home. There is no indication she is running farther. Even though we don't know exactly where she is, for a number of reasons (if we aggressively try to find her, she may run truly in the wind. If we find her and bring her home, then what? How do we keep her from running away again?) the decision was made to leave her "in place" as long as she continues to communicate.
That was Wednesday, May 20.
A few days before, on Saturday, Elaine went to visit our nephew Ben in the hospital. It's been difficult to get any real information but Elaine did talk to his nurses and they said, "We may be looking at hospice." As soon as Elaine told me, I called my sister, Ben's mother, and said "You need to get here." His sister Annie and Maggie got here on Tuesday. His mother came Friday afternoon, May 22, and got to the hospital around 5:00 PM. Ben died a few minutes after 9:00 PM. His nearly year-long struggle with cancer was over.
“Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love.
The only way that I can “handle” Grief, then, is the same way that I “handle” Love — by not “handling” it. By bowing down before its power, in complete humility.
When Grief comes to visit me, it’s like being visited by a tsunami. I am given just enough warning to say, “Oh my god, this is happening RIGHT NOW,” and then I drop to the floor on my knees and let it rock me. How do you survive the tsunami of Grief? By being willing to experience it, without resistance." --Elizabeth Gilbert
Grief is a funny terrible thing. Some people need to separate themselves, isolate, to have space and solitude to grieve and process. Others want to surround themselves with friends and loved ones. Sometimes those two different needs crash head-on into each other. We've had a bit of that. My sister and nieces want to batten down in San Juan. We want to be with them, all of us together sharing this grief. They feel we're intruding; we feel left out. It's a funny, terrible thing.
May 31, Update: As happens a lot these days, after I started writing this, I got sidetracked. The next day, May 27, Olivia was found. Someone recognized her from a police bulletin and called the "tip line." She was in Newport News, Virginia, about three-and-a-half hours from home in Tacoma Park, Maryland. We don't know exactly how she got there. Police picked her up and held her until her mother got there to take her home.
So for now, she is safe and at home. It's not pretty and there is a lot of hard work ahead. But she is safe. That is at least one less thing to I have to worry about.
Ben's body was cremated on Friday.