Three suitcases, two backpacks and my Coach handbag

This is what I was carrying as I boarded JetBlue flight 1115 at Logan International Airport behind my seven year old daughter and three year old son when the bemused flight attendant looked at me and asked, “How did you become the family sherpa?”

The answer to that question is a long one that began some six months earlier and serves as a reminder to this recovering Type A control freak, that we are not in control. And that’s ok.

At the beginning of February, my husband and daughter, Avery came down with the flu. Avery bounced back within a week or so, but Matt suffered from extreme nausea that continued to linger for weeks after. It was so bad that we abandoned our Valentine’s Day plans in favor of the Emergency Room (the second of two trips). It turns out that diagnosing gastrointestinal issues is as much an art form as it is a science. From February through July, as the nausea didn’t dissipate, Matt proceeded to suffer through two trips to the ER, so many doctors visits that I lost count sometime in March and a battery of tests including an ultrasound, HIDA test, upper endoscopy, multiple biopsies and blood work. The results were inconclusive each time and his GI doctor favored a conservative approach of eliminating possible causes one by one.

My family has spent the last week of July / first week of August at the same resort in Ogunquit, Maine for 25 years. The location is so significant that it is where Matt proposed to me 12 years ago and where we scattered my mom’s ashes last year.

We were scheduled to fly up to New England and start our vacation on Saturday evening and in typical Farrow Family style, we were packed and ready to go on Thursday. At 10:59am on Friday, Matt called me to tell me that he felt so sick to his stomach he was leaving work, which was a first over the last six months. I asked him to call his GI doctor, who wasn’t in, but his nurse confirmed what we both suspected: we’d eliminated all other possibilities, this was clearly his gallbladder and it needed to come out. The day before we were supposed to go on our family vacation.

Saturday was spent debating the merits of our various options; leave Matt at home and have him miss out on one of our favorite weeks of the year or go and take the chance that he might feel miserable on the entire trip. Finally with just three hours until wee needed to be at the airport, I suggested he call his gallbladder surgeon’s office (yup, he’d already seen one previously) to speak with the doctor on call. She called him immediately and told him that yes, it sounded like it was time to take the gallbladder out and no, he should not get on that plane.

Outwardly I remained positive and supportive, telling my husband that we would be “fine!” and “not to worry about us at all!” Meanwhile I was panicking on the inside about flying halfway across the country with two small children, three suitcases, two backpacks and my purse. I actually had minor anxiety attacks before going through security both times. I’m a nervous flier in the first place, but the idea of having to manage all of the logistics and keep the kids entertained on the flights solo was terrifying (I’m actually feeling anxious all over again just writing about it!). I also didn’t like to contemplate the possibility that Matt might have surgery while I wasn’t around. This wasn’t what I had planned at all!

My mom used to say, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” It’s a phase I have always loved and found to be true. Matt met with the gallbladder surgeon and had his gallbladder removed while the kids and I were in Maine. His mom took him to the surgery, brought him home, cooked for him and stayed overnight with him that first night. Members of our church group texted and called him regularly to check in and his sister came to visit too. My dad, brother and brother’s girlfriend helped me keep the kids entertained on the trip and even allowed me to get away on my own one afternoon.

As we departed JetBlue flight 1115 and I walked up the jet bridge behind two small children with large backpacks pushing three suitcases and toting my handbag, I had two different moms call out encouragement to me in the form of “you’re doing great!” and “you rock, mama!”

It’s certainly not the vacation we’d been planning, but Matt is recovering well and feeling a bit better every day, the kids and I had a great time in Maine with my family and you know what? I went with the flow and never got too worked up or flustered. I think that is “rocking it” in this case!

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