I can't sleep. This is nothing new; I'm frequently plagued by insomnia. Husband is out of town for work, which is often when I find myself up at all hours of the night, like some kid whose been left alone and is giddy with the ability to do what she wants. Plus, I've been anxious, another common reason I'm up when I need to be sleeping. I'm awake now because I'm sad. I'm sad because my mom and I have been planning a trip to Warsaw since March. We were going to track down as much as we could about my grandfather, my father's father. It was going to be very powerful and emotional, even though I doubted (and still do) that we'd really find anything when we were there. I didn't anticipate this being a happy trip, but I looked forward to traveling with my mom and spending time with her.

Then, while she was in New York for my thesis reading, her back started hurting her. I assumed that she slept funny and pulled a muscle and that she'd be fine. She worried that it was her spinal condition. I didn't remember that she had a spinal condition. She has so many conditions that I try not to think about them.

The pain did not get better when she was home. My mom went to her spine doctor. He told her that her condition had worsened. He prescribed medication, Advil, and physical therapy. My mother worried that the new medications and the Advil would upset her stomach, and that the physical therapy would worsen the pain, as happened to her several years ago when she broke her foot. I didn't say anything at first. I just worried.

I worried because my mom never gets to go anywhere. I worried because she's not that old and she has so many conditions to deal with. I worried about going on this difficult trip by myself. I worried because I didn't want her to not go to Warsaw, but I worried as much that she would go and that something would happen while we were there. Then I would feel even worse if I had pressured her into going. Last Wednesday, I called my friend Alex, and I told her about the situation.

"I know it is short notice, but if my mom can't go to Warsaw, would you be interested in joining me?"

She said yes. I put a ticket on hold for her. Then we waited for my mom to decide whether she would come or not. I asked her to give me an answer by Monday night so I could get a ticket for Alex if I needed to, and she could finalize her child care plans.

My mom called me on Monday night at 10 pm. She tried to make small talk. I knew she was canceling the trip. I tried not to cry. She told me that I would have a good experience with Alex, that she wouldn't hold me back on the trip, and that it was important that I get to do what I need to do without being hindered. She told me that she wouldn't cry until later.

I'm glad that I have a friend who can come on this trip with me. I know that Alex will be an excellent travel companion and that we'll eat pierogies together and, to honor my mom, make jokes about needing to pay to use the toilet at the museum at Treblinka (see: Mom's comment). But now I can't sleep and I'm trying not to cry and failing miserably because it is not fair that my mom can't go.