Rosa received notice from a family friend that her aunt, Maria, is dying of liver cancer in Jacksonville, Florida today. Rosa didn’t know her all that well, but was trying to find a way to get to Jacksonville out of a feeling of family duty. It is her deceased mother’s only sister. It is the end of the month so I can’t just pack up and head out for a road trip unless Rosa doesn’t mind sleeping and camping on the side of the road in a tent and eating dollar menu fast food for a few days. Money is that tight before my check is scheduled to arrive on the first half of April.
“How far is Jacksonville?” Rosa asked me as we sat over at Rodger’s eating today.
Family life can grow so complicated in a moment’s notice and this is very hard for people with mental illness. Juggling the responsibilities and social maneuvering of a funeral, wedding, or birth can be a proverbial nightmare for someone suffering from schizophrenia or anxiety, and I suffer from both. I selfishly was glad it was Rosa dealing with all that and not me.
“If we left early in the morning, then we could be there late that night,” I replied, delicately dancing around this very hard and tumultuous family happenstance.
Rosa pulled out her purse’s wallet revealing a mish mashed jumble of crumpled one and five dollar bills. She started to flatten them and count them upon the table as I sat waiting for our waitress to bring our ticket.
“I’ve got $42 dollars,” Rosa said looking up at me earnestly for any signs of hope that I would take her. “That should pay for our gas.”
I am about the only one of Rosa’s friends that has a nice enough car to take such a long road trip.
“But where would we sleep? I am not going to want to drive all that way in just one day,” I said. “Jacksonville is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida.”
“Your father wouldn’t let you borrow a couple hundred bucks, would he?”
“No, If I borrow money from dad he will only think I am lying about the trip and am about to head off on one of my drinking binges,” I replied.
I never reveal to George, Rosa, or any of the gang that I have credit cards. Besides, I try to keep them paid off by the month, and two or three nights in a motel room would set me back a couple hundred dollars for two people. I am not sleeping in any roach motels. I also would never get that paid off next month on my meager income. I use them mainly for filling up my car with the “pay at the pump” feature. I abhor debt so funding a trip with my Visa and MasterCard was out of the question.
“I have no one else who can take me,” Rosa said, sullenly as we walked up the sidewalk across the bridge that spans that grand Chattahoochee River.
I put my arm around her shoulder and walked with her till we then crossed the Georgia state line back into Alabama.
“What are you gonna do?” I asked her as we walked through downtown.
“I am going over to my cousin’s house and see if he will take me,” She said. “If he hasn’t already left.”
I reached into my wallet to bring out my last twenty dollar bill from my blog advertisements and gave it to Rosa.
“Here’s a twenty,” I said. “That will give you sixty two dollars to eat on while you are gone.”
“Thank you,” Rosa said as she kissed me on the cheek. “I will see you in a few days. Don’t forget about me.”
I and Rosa parted ways as I walked the rest of the way home to take another nap wondering if she will make it to Jacksonville in time before her Aunt dies. At least she will be there for the funeral. Family life can grow so complicated in a moment’s notice and this is very hard for people with mental illness. Juggling the responsibilities and social maneuvering of a funeral, wedding, or birth can be a proverbial nightmare for someone suffering from schizophrenia or anxiety, and I suffer from both. I selfishly was glad it was Rosa dealing with all that and not me. Isn’t that just sad and speaks volumes about what a pitiful little soul I can be at times! I wish there was more I could have done for Rosa. I am going to miss her while she is gone. We have become inseparable.