I am not especially close to my family. Sure, I talk to them on a frequent basis but when I had exploratory surgery to see if it could be determined why there hasn't been a second child, my mother wasn't aware that I had it or that the the surgery couldn't pinpoint any specific issues. I didn't tell her because I didn't think that she would offer to come and help out while I recovered and it would cause me more stress to hear her assumptions (we didn't want to have more children, we couldn't afford another child, etc).
My grandmother hadn't been well for quite some time, suffering from dehydration and malnutrition as she tried to make due on as little as possible. I hadn't seen her since 2011. I tried to remember to call her and make sure that our son said "hello," sing a song, or draw a picture for her. I always felt like I had the best intentions and then fell far short of my goals. When it became obvious that she wouldn't be returning home, I asked my mom if I should visit. She said no, just remember her how she was the last time I saw her and that there wasn't a reason to visit. I really regret not being able to say good by to my grandma in person. Yes, my son and I briefly talked to her the night before she passed.
She wasn't having a funeral or a memorial so going up to where she lived didn't seem to serve a purpose. Her house and possessions has already been sold or donated earlier this year. My mom and aunts where there but none of them are the type to sit around and go through a bevy of "remember when mom.." In fact, my mom was a bit put out that my grandma did what she said she was going to do - die before the 1st of September. I actually really respected her carrying through with her goal.
I did need to do something and that something was going to the mountains. There is just something about being at your campsite, smelling the fire, listening to the calls of the night time birds, and catching glimpses of the stars that just brings calmness to my soul. Each time we go, I have intentions of getting in miles of hiking and exercise and it never happens but it doesn't matter. Long ago, my husband and I decided that life happens for a reason and you can fight against it and complain about it but you have to let go and Let God and that is what this trip was for me.
We had a family friend with us on this trip - all of sharing a 10 person tent. Our conversations turned to "safety words" and "ground rules" and while our conversation definitely wasn't about life, this became our group mantra for the trip. Our safety words, never utilized for anything, were obscure and we never talked about "ground rules" in relationships.
What stuck with me is the need for all of us to have safety words. A phrase that we utter where those that love us the most know that we need help. Sometimes the act of explaining that we need help and what kind of help might be needed is overpowering. Being able to utter a safety word and have those that love you know that you need a way out of a situation is incredibly powerful. Same for ground rules.
We all have ground rules that we probably haven't defined but that we know exist. No drinking and driving. No straying outside the bounds of the relationship. Be positive. Love like you haven't been hurt. How many of us have actually voiced this ground rules? Put them on paper? Made a family motto our of them?
We need safety words and ground rules. We need them in our families and we need them with our friends.