I spent all day Tuesday (7/20) running around picking up things for my sister who was still safely at the crisis center here in Portland at that point. Again, I didn’t want her spending the night out of a secure facility.
I arrived at the crisis center Wednesday morning at about 10:30am. By 11:30am my sister and I were trying to track down the hospital pharmacy they had sent us to for her one day’s dose of medications. Just enough to get her to Sierra Tucson, where they would confiscate everything anyway. We finally found the pharmacy and headed for my house where I had laid out everything she would need (plus much more) for her 30 days in Arizona. I had gathered clothes at her apartment, then found some items in my own closet I knew she would like, then I had also purchased her a few new things, including a new bathing suit. No one is talking about her staying longer than the excruciatingly expensive 30 days, except me. I believe 6 weeks is the recommended stay, but I’m going to wait to advocate for that when the time comes. I know there are no guarantees, but I really want this time for her to be productive.
We packed up two suitcases, and one backpack for the flights and first night. I guess sometimes it takes a day or two for them to go through everything and give you your things back. The Peacemaker drove us to the airport. Blue Eyes would have liked to, but I had sent him off as our family’s representative at our Aunt’s funeral, which was happening at the same time.
We had a short flight to Seattle and then a long wait at the airport as our flight to Tucson was delayed. I walked the very crowded terminal, did a little shopping, texted to let everyone know we were safely on our way, and then read my book. My sister sat the whole time at the gate staring out at the tarmac. I didn’t expect more. She was pretty exhausted from her detox/10-day stint at the crisis center. And I’m sure she was anxious about this huge transition in her life. Not to mention flying in the time of Covid. I can’t believe my first flight in a year and a half was to Tucson, in the summer.
When we finally arrived Tucson airport, it was going on 11:00pm. I picked up the rental car and we set out for Sierra Tucson, which ended up being nearly an hour’s drive out into the desert. It had been a very hot day in Arizona and when we stepped out of the car in front of the Copper Sky building, the 90 degree temp knocked out what little energy we had left. Before we even opened the trunk, a nurse appeared. We unpacked my sister’s things from the car and I said, “I guess this is the end of the line for me… “ and she said it was. Due to Covid, there are no visitors on campus. Family programs are suspended. This is when my sister started to lose it. She reached out to me, gave me a big hug and cried into my shoulder. I told her how much I love her and how the whole family is rooting for her. I told her to take advantage of everything Sierra Tucson has to offer and we would be thinking of her every day and looking forward to her return home. She’ll be spending her birthday at Sierra Tucson. I told her I’d plan her party at the beach house for when she returns. She thanked me for bringing her to Tucson and the nurse escorted her inside.
That was it for me. It was past midnight and I still had an hour’s drive back to my airport hotel. The hotel was sterile, and lonely. It had been an incredibly long day. I cried tears of exhaustion. I woke early and decided to just wait at the airport. My flights home were uneventful. I was exhausted for days.
My sister called my phone on Tuesday, day 6 at Sierra Tucson. I was out in the garden, and missed her call. I kept my phone on me all day Wednesday. She called at 2:00pm. She sounded good. She was still in Copper Sky, the more restrictive area of campus where they do initial assessments, but was expecting to be moved within a couple days. She didn’t talk about medications, which was good as she’s usually obsessed with pain meds. She said they give her a kind of tension release neck massage every night before bed. Earlier that day she had met Sheldon the therapy turtle. Like me, she loves turtles, and all animals really.
When you drive into Sierra Tucson, a sign says “Expect a Miracle.” When you drive out, the sign says “You are a Miracle.” It’s a good feeling seeing that sign. I don’t expect a miracle for my sister, but I do hope she gains tools to help her realize she and her life are worth so much more than being wasted away in a bottle of pills. I know borderline personality disorder is a tough diagnosis, but I also believe life is worth living even if we have to work hard every day to remind ourselves that it is.