I made a very difficult decision yesterday, one that had been bothering me for days, and one in which I was not sure what was right or wrong.
To set the stage: you know I have company upstairs. A young woman, peer age-wise and old friend of E next door, who flew a very long distance (very) to say her goodbyes while E is still alive.
No problem so far. I was happy that I could provide room and space for anyone who wanted. It was an offer I made in all sincerity.
But, as the days unfolded, the woman would spend almost twelve hours next door, from about 11am to 11pm. I was increasingly uncomfortable that she was in the way next door, in the face of the family and other friends who were gathering. She slept until 10:30am here then walked over. When she came back at night, we were already in bed so I had to leave lights on outside and the door unlocked (which in itself was NOT the problem but it was odd she never once asked should I turn off the lights and lock the door when I come home late?). Again, I could deal with that, it wasn’t what kept me up at night.
I left a note on her bed one day last week and asked her to come down in the morning so we could chat – about how long she might be staying etc. She did come down and I asked her if she had a plan. No, she said, she wasn’t sure when she would go home. I asked if she thought she’d stay until E died. Possibly, she answered.
Then I asked the real question I wanted to know the answer to: did she have concerns that she was spending far too much time next door? That she would be an emotional encumbrance rather than a supportive soul?
Her answer made sense when she told me – that she was really needed, a help to the family she called her second family, that she would disappear into another room when she felt others needed space and that the others in the family found her to be a spiritual gift.
Okay, I didn’t see it that way, but she’s a bit of a California flower child – into karma and drinking hibiscus ginger kombucha. Not my thing but she’s a harmless butterfly so I accepted her reasoning and figured my concerns were incorrect. I also asked where she was eating because she hadn’t touched a thing here, even though we offered what we had and told her the refrigerator was hers to open and use. Irony: she’s eating next door, the food I deliver every day! 🙂 I didn’t like that one bit. Not at all.
Then midweek, I got a phone call from my neighbor. She thanked me for hosting E’s friend and I voiced my concern to her that this young woman was staying way too long at their house every day. My neighbor is the sweetest woman alive, never heard her utter a mean word about anyone, ever, but yes, she did admit, she felt E’s friend was staying too long every day. I KNEW it, I just KNEW it. In my heart I was sure the visit was too taxing.
Soooooo, once again, I asked her to come meet with me and chat. Then, I told her point blank it was time she flew home. [As an aside, when she arrived at LGA, she said had no way of getting up here, no plan for anyone to retrieve her, so one of my kids volunteered to gather her. That didn’t settle with me from the get go].
I told her she could fly back to California from White Plains, via Chicago and that we’d take her to the airport. The flight out of HPN to ORD leaves at 7am. The best and cheapest fare was this Sunday, tomorrow. That gave her a full ten days here, plenty long, IMHO.
She pushed back at me, saying she wasn’t ready to leave yet and hadn’t made the decision about what day she’d return west. Further, she insisted her presence was welcome and needed. I couldn’t tell her what I knew, what I knew was totally told to me in confidence, but I pushed back harder and said No, it’s time to go.
Note: she doesn’t drive so even if she left here and went to a hotel, she’d have to impose on others to pick her up and bring her back to the hotel. There’s NO hotel close by. The taxis around here are the worst, double and triple charging those of us in the 10506 zip code. Uber is around but I don’t know if her budget would allow.
Then one of my kids told me she was asking around what other family could take her in, alas there no one within walking distance. Rather than accepting my advice that she leave (and there in lies my conundrum – perhaps it was none of my business to tell her to leave!), she found another family to house her, even though they have a two year old and a newborn and the only room they could put her up in was not a bedroom but a small office with no door on it. Wouldn’t YOU stop and think, gee, maybe I am a nuisance guest?
Rather than put up with me in her face, she came and got her suitcase at 10p and said she was off to stay with someone else who didn’t judge her motives. OUCH.
So she’s still in town, until at east Tuesday now I hear, and I toss and turn if I should have kept my mouth shut. My one and only concern was E’s parents and if they confided in me that this woman was staying too long, it was my duty to get the guest to understand that.
She did not get it. I’m now sure I’ve caused consternation to the family. They know the guest has left my house.
Most of me thinks I blew it yet in my heart of hearts, I think I did the right thing by trying to get the guest to understand she was overstaying her welcome.
Thoughts? Did I do wrong? Or was I within my rights? I’m trying to set aside my doubts by sitting outside in 70+ degree sunshine, doing the Saturday WSJ puzzle. Life is good.