In December of 2013, her trip to Oklahoma for Christmas was planned and I was cleaning and decorating the house like a crazy person in addition to getting all the shopping done. At this point, I shopped for the gifts from her and she sent me a check. I didn’t have a problem with this at all since it’s not easy shopping for older grandchildren and she didn’t know what I liked or what to get my husband. Plus, the added expense for shipping. We talked a lot; we talked about what the kids wanted, what I was planning on cooking, her travel arrangements, all the usual things but something seemed a little off.

In the past several months I had noticed our mandatory (her rules), one hour, Saturday at 10:00am phone calls had been becoming shorter and far less detailed. Not like her at all. Also, if she mentioned that she was going to a movie, the next week I would ask her about it and it was the same response every time: the movie was too loud, her friend couldn’t follow it, and it eventually became so awful they walked out. There were a few other odd things but nothing too alarming.

Until she told me she wasn’t coming for Christmas.

She has never been comfortable with any type of discomfort. Her pain tolerance is zero, same goes for heat or cold. Or sunlight. Or darkness. I always made sure to have extra sunglasses, floor fans, blankets, night lights – you get the idea. She often complained about her stomach although she was never diagnosed with any medical problem. She took a lot of over-the-counter medications. Too many in my opinion but it wasn’t worth discussing more than once. When she told me her stomach was bothering her and she wouldn’t be able to make the one-hour flight here I knew something was up.

I told her she still had a week before the trip and she needed to make an appointment with a doctor to be checked out. My reasoning was if she was too sick to fly and willing to spend Christmas alone then there was something terribly wrong. She started handing out every excuse she could come up with. I offered to call her doctor for her and she said he had moved. I suggested she go to the emergency room and she said she just knew she would catch something worse.

At this point, I was pissed. I was tired of trying to help and being shot down every time. Plus, this was just weird. I thought she might come around but the day before she was scheduled to fly here, she told me she still wasn't coming. What in the hell? We decided to drive to Illinois the day after Christmas to check on her. I knew it was the right thing to do but I just didn’t want to; not because I didn’t care but because I was scared of what we might find.