Winning Ticket

airplanes-work-1Friends invited us to spend an extended weekend at a resort north of Puerto Vallarta. “The change of scenery will do you good,” they said. We hadn’t boarded a plane and taken a trip together, just the two of us, since 1992. Ariela was in pre-school then. Her teacher stayed with her for the four days we were gone.

We planned another trip several years later, not long after we moved back to California. Ariela must have been about eight. I won the trip in a raffle. I never win anything, and I’ve taken enough statistics classes to know not to buy lottery tickets. But this was a raffle for charity, so I bought my ticket and held the stub in my hand as numbers were called. My legs were trembling so much I had a hard time standing and getting up to the stage to collect my winnings. Four days, all expenses paid in a beautiful hotel on the beach in Cabo San Lucas. Round trip airfare included.

I was a giddy, little kid, giggly with excitement. Sure, I was nervous about leaving Ariela, but I was determined not to spoil our getaway with worry, my normal default position. “She’ll be fine,” I coached myself, knowing that fine was relative for Ariela, and nothing was ever really fine.

Our plan was to leave Ariela with her babysitter, a young woman who had been with us for over six months. I was packed two days before the trip. A few last minute errands, and I would be ready to go. I was driving home from the store. My cell phone rang. “Ariela had a seizure,” the babysitter said. She started to sob. She had seen seizures before but nothing like this one. Her terror tore through the phone. I knew we couldn’t leave Ariela alone with her or with anyone else after that.

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