It started with a Facebook IM from Kathy. I saw it as soon as I woke up Thursday morning. She sent it pre-dawn. She included her phone number and said she had to talk to me.
Kathy has serious cognitive issues, so I wasn't sure she meant it. Or that she was understood it was me she was communicating with. I told myself that sometime during the day I'd send her an email or comment on one of her innumerable Facebook posts (usually Snoopy or clips from America's Got Talent), just to reassure her that we're connected.
In the kitchen, I turned on my phone, which had been charging overnight.* There was a text from Kathy, asking me to please call her. She wanted us to set up a talk that evening. She wants me to call her to set up a time to talk? How does that make sense?
Still, I figured she must be upset so I dialed. I was surprised she didn't pick up. After all, she had just texted and IM'd me. I left her a voicemail, explaining that I was having dental surgery Thursday afternoon and wouldn't feel like talking that night, but to call me back now if she wanted to talk.
She texted me immediately. Texted, not called. So she was there, listening to my voicemail. Why didn't she take the call the asked me to make?
The text said we'd talk "over the summer and have FuN." (Recently Kathy became a fan of random capitalization.)
That was Thursday.
Saturday night she left an oversized Facebook post for her kid sister.
Kim S.: I do NOT do messenger! Call or email me. I have tried to reach you.
Um ... Kathy used Messenger to reach out to me on Thursday. Her sister responded that she doesn't use Messenger, either, and seemed confused by the public shout out. The tone between the sisters felt frustrated and contentious.
Clearly something is bothering her. I asked our mutual friend John if he'd heard from her, and he said no but he didn't expect to. It's been months since they've communicated.
Kathy's sister Kim is in Washington State. Her daughter lives in Colorado. I'm 60 miles away. Her son is nearer, but they've been estranged for years, and I don't think he knows how her mental capabilities have diminished. But Kathy is surrounded by family. Her adult grandchildren are nearby and involved with her -- they had a big family outing to The Brookfield Zoo a few weeks ago -- and they have keys to her apartment, so we don't to worry about her being that "I've fallen and I can't get up," Lady.I feel like I ought to do something about whatever is upsetting her, but I don't know what. Obviously her sister Kim knows something is going on. Kathy doesn't want to talk to me.
To compound all of this, my feelings about Kathy are very complicated. She can be very supportive. She can also be irresponsible and casually cruel. We have a tangled history but a long one (more than 40 years) and I want to honor that.
Most of all, I don't want this to be happening. I don't want to deal with this. My friend Henry is fading away quickly. My oldest friend is battling bipolar disorder. The cold, hard fact is that I love them more than I do Kathy. I feel I only have so much attention to give, and at the risk of sounding bitchy, I'd rather give it to Henry and my oldest friend.
And I'm recovering from a crown lengthening. I hate to be all woe-is-me, but it was kind of a big deal.
So I'm trying to let this go, but it's still leaving me feeling guilty.
*I still have a landline, so if anyone had been trying to reach me they had a way.