The Looming Crisis I Didn’t See Coming

A Place of Protection

…continued from yesterday.

After a very long day of travel, Sarah and her grandparents landed safely in Puerto Rico. Before she left, we had investigated whether or not our cellular carrier worked the same in Puerto Rico as it did in the U.S.—fortunately, it did.

She called late at night to let me know they had arrived at a relative’s house where they would stay for a few days before heading to a more remote area of the island where they would stay for the rest of the month.

Sarah texted me with an enthusiastic review of a college she had toured her second day in Puerto Rico. Suddenly, she had plans to change her major again, and this time attend the university in Puerto Rico. Naturally, I felt a little frustrated and started asking her more questions.

Anita Ojeda: I’m confused. Are classes taught in English or Spanish?
Sarah Ojeda:
Spanish
I still need to investigate
That’s all I know
No more questions
Anita Ojeda:
Usually each school has their own requirements for a major, so it’s not necessarily the same everywhere.
Sarah Ojeda:
Until I know more
Well no duh
Anita Ojeda:
Where did that come from?
Sarah Ojeda:
What
I just don’t have all the answers
Anita Ojeda:
But you are making statements as if you did.
Sarah Ojeda:
We’ve no need to freak out
These are all tentative ideas.
Obviously
WWU will be my backup plan
Anita Ojeda:
And there’s no need for YOU to freak out over me asking a few questions. I thought perhaps you had already made the visit because your answers sounded so sure. You DID say you were going this morning 😉 (and that was some time ago since your texts arrived whilst I was sleeping).
Sarah Ojeda:
Hence the “we”!
I aldeada knw
I haven’t give her
Yet
And you know me
I get excited easily
You shouldn’t be surprised assustada
Hahahha

Sarah’s reaction to my questions surprised me—usually, we had a great relationship and she willingly listened to my advice (although she didn’t always follow it—which was fine by me). Her texts had a different quality than before. The spelling and grammar had changed from her usual careful composing, and she sent short, rapid texts with unfinished thoughts in each one.Whoever said that parenting gets easier as your kids mature must have never had children. Click To Tweet

A few days later my stress level increased even more.
Sarah Ojeda:
A question for you: what exactly are the perimeters for s guy to date me ?
I know he has to talk to dad
What else ?
And how … Skype ?
Or In person ?
These are for the future
Anita Ojeda:
That’s the main one. Maybe he needs to friend Dad on Facebook and get to know him a little.
Sarah Ojeda:
Probably this year sometime haa
Ok
He could imessage him too
Anita Ojeda:
In person would be nice—but probably not cost effective!
Sarah Ojeda:
He has an iPod
For sure.
He is already planning on meeting you guys
But not for 4 years
Anita Ojeda:
He might want to provide some references, too.
Sarah Ojeda:
When he asks for my hand in marriage ahahaah
Ok. Like his friends and his mom ?
The ones in the video !! Haha
I love that video. It makes me never want to fall for any other guy..::)
Anita Ojeda:
Yeah, or teachers that know him—just so Dad can get a good picture of what he’s like.
Sarah Ojeda:
Okay. Cool.
I will let him know ::)
I think he is so perfect for me.
He’s vegetarian, he is over a year older, he loves Jesus, he is super sweet and loving to his mom, he is taller, he is intelligent (always texts very correctly! Yo would approve), is going to be a nurse like I want to be, and he is so handsome. And lots of other things. He is a really good friend, so loyal to everybody. I could and I do talk to him all day! Haha I can pay for the extra data gahaha

This sounded eerily similar to what had happened when she went to Argentina. They had never met, though, so for some reason the relationship felt ‘safer.’ I added him to my prayer list.

***

And then disaster touched our lives. A college friend’s daughter—an acquaintance of both Laura and Sarah’s—was struck by a vehicle whilst riding her bicycle home late one afternoon. Her life hung in the balance for a few days while her family and friends gathered around to say their last goodbyes. My heart grieved for my friend and her family and the community that loved the daughter so much. Sarah wrote and sang a beautiful tribute song to the young lady and posted it on the Internet. We grieved. I hoped that Sarah would be able to navigate her grief without slipping back into depression.

Instead, Sarah proclaimed to the world via Facebook that her friend’s untimely death would act as a catalyst for her to live a better, more meaningful life. Her pronouncement sounded wonderful, but her strange texts continued.

Each time a text from Sarah popped, the screws of my anxiety tightened. Especially when this one came through while Pedro and I drove to Albuquerque for a quick overnight trip.

Sarah Ojeda:
Mum
What would you think if I had time as far as my library job If I took advantage of the fact I was gonna be in New York on March 5 and hop on over to Portugal for a week to surprise my friend? It would only cost 600 and I have almost 8oo in my bank account.
I will still have enough for all my other plans.
And I would be happy not going to sain then
And instead going straight to nursing school in August in Puerto Rico.
Now that I’m not needing a Spanish major…
It would make it much simpler to be on track with my nursing major.
I talked to the people about transferring credits. They said it is easy to do.
I am gonna look up if it is possible to change my return date from NYc-Reno. I think I can.
Anita Ojeda:
I am driving to Albuquerque right now.
Sarah Ojeda:
Oh
Send voice memos
Anita Ojeda:
Keep investigating. We can chat in a couple of hours.
Sarah Ojeda:
Why now? To alb
Ok
I will
Anita Ojeda:
Have you talked to dad yet about nursing school?
Sarah Ojeda:
No
Should I ?
Anita Ojeda:
I think that you and dad and I need to have a conversation about your plans
Sarah Ojeda:
Ok
No problem
Anita Ojeda:
Dad and I are traveling in different vehicles. Have you talked to him?
Sarah Ojeda:
Yes
Anita Ojeda:
Did you talk to Dad about going to Portugal?
Sarah Ojeda:
Not yet
Anita Ojeda:
Maybe you need to talk to Dad to get a man’s opinion about going to Portugal.
Sarah Ojeda:
Ok
I won’t havec to
I will go to morocco
England

***

I tried not to let her disturbing texts ruin my plans for self-care.  I had scheduled downtime while Pedro traveled to visit some of my favorite birding spots in New Mexico. The day he left, the mysterious illness that I thought had vanished returned.

The symptoms included intense pain any time I breathed, a low-grade temperature and excruciating pain any time I laid down that lasted 5-10 minutes. Despite visiting multiple doctors, chiropractors, and acupuncturists, no one could explain what brought on the pain, or what made it go away.

I had tried painkillers, muscle relaxants, antibiotics, and breathing exercises. The pain and fevers could last anywhere from two to six weeks—during which time I could scarcely function (now that I had my Fitbit, I could document how high my heart rate actually went—shuffling to my classroom each morning registered as an aerobic workout).

For three years, the illness had stayed away. I poured out my frustration in my prayer journal—seeking relief from the heavenly Physician. Maybe I didn’t trust God enough. Maybe stress caused the illness. Maybe I hadn’t been casting my cares on him the way I should. I finally went to an urgent care doctor who diagnosed me as perhaps having pleurisy—he gave me an anti-inflammatory shot and sent me home. The shot did nothing to relieve the pain. A week later, the pain and fevers had not subsided. The next urgent care doctor treated me as if I secretly wanted prescription drugs. I didn’t want drugs, I wanted answers! No one seemed to have them.

And I couldn’t seem to find the answers to Sarah’s sudden changes in behavior, either.

***

Anita Ojeda:
Have you analyzed your sudden desire to go to Portugal? Have you prayed about it? Do you want to go so that you can change your status on Facebook more than for any other reason? Dad still won’t have met him.
Sarah Ojeda:
I don’t want to be in a relationship and changing my FB status means nothing to me
I probably will never change it Hahaa
It’s dumb
And I know he won’t have
I still don’t think I’ll be ready
To date him
After going and seeing
Him
Hahsha
Anita Ojeda:
Did you take your passport with you?
Sarah Ojeda:
Yea
Omgoodness
I am going!!!! NJ-Istanbul-London-Portugal-Madrid-Istanbul-nyc. $600!! Aoooooosooossso cheap.
There new counties !!!
Three 3
Anita Ojeda:
Are you trying to collect countries the way I collect birdies? Does it count as a country that you’ve visited if you only go to the airport?
Sarah Ojeda:
No
But I have an 8 hour layover in London !!!
And turkey I will have some time too.
Anita Ojeda:
So you’d have about five hours to visit. Is the layover in the middle of the night or day?
I don’t get it. You’d only be in Portugal for three days? After all that travel?
Sarah Ojeda:
Oh haha it was the cheapest. I’ll change it. Thanks for noticing. ..!
How many days would be food ?
Good *^
Five ?
A month ? ❤❤
Anita Ojeda:
I think you need to let Dad in on your thoughts.
Sarah Ojeda:
I will
Nothing is fought yet
Bought *
Anita Ojeda:
Why is this not chasing a guy?
Sarah Ojeda:
I would be going because I have money and time and I want to see new countries and be free

***

Free? After she purchased a plane ticket she would have less than $200.00 in her bank account. Her plans didn’t sound like freedom, they sounded like a looming crisis.

…to be continued.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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