A time for both gratitude and personal reflection…I was traveling to Iceland with my daughter during school vacation. Allie is a seasoned traveler. She’s also my adult child with multiple anaphylactic allergies and asthma. She’s been self-reliant from an early age. Not only has she traveled near and far; she has also lived and worked on other continents. So, why was I feeling a bit more protective than usual? My husband and I raised Allie to self-advocate and always trust her gut about both circumstances and people. She is totally responsible in her behavior. Allie lives each day prepared for an emergency. We’ve traveled abroad as a family over the years. BUT…this trip was different in that it was totally focused on mother-daughter time. What was this pre-trip angst that I was experiencing?
Our week in Iceland was exactly what we hoped it would be! We rented both a four-wheel drive car and a beautiful Airbnb in downtown Reyjavik. We explored terrain that was varied and all spectacular! Snow covered mountains, dense green moss on volcanic rock, surprising shades of blue in oceans and springs, geothermic activity, black sand beaches, basalt columns, majestic waterfalls, geysers, Icelandic horses by the thousands, a countryside church for every small cluster of red roofed houses, troll huts, caves, and a crater are just some of the sights we were able to see…up close and personal. We experienced impassable roads, solid sheets of rain, snow outs, a wind that had a force strong enough to blow one over, and bitter, biting cold. All of this accompanied the arrival of Iceland’s first official day of summer, April 20th.
Allie and I had one another’s uninterrupted company and it was such a treasure! We took turns driving and directing. We shared memories of travels past…and made new memories. We cooked dinners late into the night, while drinking wine. We sat in the Blue Lagoon as hail balls coated our hair. We shared our political and philosophical viewpoints. We laughed our heads off! And through each day, Allie was both my fierce protector and my gentle prod. I have MS and wear a leg brace. Grace, stability, and agility all elude me. Allie served as amazing copilot as I took “healthy” risks, and also sometimes waited behind when the conditions were dangerously icy. Hmm…, it hit me…we had traveled full circle in our relationship.
Allie traveled to Iceland very prepared. WOW Airlines was fabulous! What Allie needed to feel safe, they were happy to provide! Her carry on luggage contained everything additional she needed for her well-being.
Allie’s menu cards were in both English and Icelandic. Our first stop upon leaving the airport was at the Visitors Bureau. Allie spent a bit of time with a greeter, making sure that her Icelandic terms were correct on her menu cards. She confirmed all emergency numbers. She was able to get the ingredients of the Blue Lagoon shower products on their website.
Allie traveled with extra phone chargers. She traveled with her insulated pack with multiple epi-pens, inhaler, and other emergency meds. She wore her ever present Medic Alert bracelet. And new to me, Allie can now travel with so many allergy-safe non-perishable snacks. All I can say is, “Bless these companies that are making all of these wonderful, delicious, and sometimes even healthy snacks!” So along with the perishable cheese, fruit, and yogurt that we would take on the road each day, she had bars, butters, jerky, and sweets. Eating out, something Allie can safely navigate in many places, proved challenging. Fish and fish stocks are a major food source. It felt risky! We did eat at an Italian restaurant on our last night, where the owner, chef, and server were all very involved in her meal prep. Allie almost always stays in an Airbnb, and it is such help in getting a healthy, hot meal in each day.
So. I’ll end where I started…discussing that pre-trip angst. I have a better understanding of it now. We who are mamas are forever mamas! I haven’t had such an intimate entree into Allie’s life since she was a little girl. Sure, we visit often…I love to cook for her…and I am a BIG Miss Allergic Reactor blog fan! But, this was different… Allie has long been able to negotiate the world with her anaphylactic allergies and asthma. I am confident in her ability. I understand my reaction as a sort of post-traumatic grief response. Years ago, my husband and I had to grieve the diagnoses. Then, we just got on with raising her to the best of our abilities! This treasured time together resurfaced the deeply buried hurt of remembering that “our allergy kids” have quite a burden in the decisions that must be made every day. They can assume NOTHING when it comes to food choices. They can never let their guard down. And that is hard for this mama! So, I had a magical journey with Allie! I am so grateful for the adventure that we shared! She’s awesome! She’s who she is, in part, because of her allergies. In that icy terrain, she protected me as I had always worked to protect her. She encouraged me , as I had encouraged her. A hard to accept silver lining…but a silver lining none-the-less.