Care Partnering, Challenges & Solutions, Life & Living, Memories

goodbye Dubai is as good a place to start as any

Sometimes it’s hard to say with precision where a story begins. So it is with this one. Was it September 27, 1928, the day Mom was born? Or November 21, 1951, when she was married? Was it 06:00 on January 28, 1956, when I inhaled my first breath? Or April 23, 1990, when my grandmother exhaled her last? Perhaps it was April 6, 2000? Or August 21, 2006? Or some other milestone of which I’m not aware. Maybe it began generations ago on a dark and stormy night. It’s hard to know. This part of this tale takes place in early October 2011.


Dubai Marina nightscape from my flat, October 2011
Dubai Marina nightscape from my flat, October 2011

October 2011: I look out at the Dubai Marina nightscape and pedal furiously as I Skype with my friend Kate.*

I rarely do one thing at a time. Exercise is no exception. The road bike I bought when I took up triathlon a few years ago is fixed to an indoor trainer that allows me to spin inside. That’s what I’m doing in the bedroom of my twentieth-floor flat. It’s still too hot to ride “au plein air” in the UAE at the beginning of October. After 18 years I’ve gotten used to it. Even grown to love it. There’s a whole other story about that.

“I have to give up everything.” My voice cracks, and the tears start to flow.

“Think of it as a new beginning,” Kate tries her best to comfort me from the other side of the world. “Once you get the right care in place you can reboot your business here. There are lots of opportunities.”

It’s funny how people think they know how you should run your life and that it’s up to them to tell you what you should do whether you like it or not. They give you advice when what you really want and need them to do is listen. It’s even worse when it’s unsolicited advice from random strangers, which thankfully Kate is not. Listening takes patience, practice and compassion. We all say we do it, but mostly we don’t.

“Kate. There are no opportunities for me there. I can’t do what I do here in Quebec, in French,” I’m in full-on waterworks mode now. “But I can’t leave Mom on her own either. I just can’t. She’s all alone in that big house with the cat, and she’s scared. She’s terrified. Oh god.” I stop because my throat seizes. Kate picks up the slack.

“You’re doing the right thing. The universe is going to help you. Things will fall into place. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen,” she says.

Her words begin to sound blah blah blah. My laptop threatens to lose its balance on the “tri-bars” in front of me, and my earbuds keep falling out. I’m overheating despite the air conditioning. Everything has suddenly become slippery. Sweat trickles down the back of my neck; tears slide down my cheeks and drop onto the tiled floor. I’ll mop them up later. Then I imagine the bike and I breaking free from the trainer, crashing through the floor-to-ceiling window and plunging into the black waters below.

And in a way, that’s exactly what happens.

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14 thoughts on “goodbye Dubai is as good a place to start as any”

  1. Wow, what an opening. Can’t wait to learn more. What were you doing there that you couldn’t do on Canada? What got you there? How did your transition back to North America go?

    Years ago I chose to take care of my father when he was having a hard time after my mother divorced him. I had the opportunity to go traveling with friends, hang out with people my own age or just finish growing up. But at age 20 I saw my father was suffering and I could not in good conscience walk away. It changed the outcome of my life. Not for better or for worse, just different. I did what I had to do, and would do it again if faced with the same circumstances. But now and then (not often) I wonder what doors I closed when I opened that one.


    1. Thanks Heidi 🙂

      Some of the answers about the UAE are here:

      I was a public speaking coach and trainer; part of my old business site is here:

      I also did some life coaching 2007 – 2011. Who knows? Maybe I will do some coaching around Alzheimer’s caregiving in the future, but right now my plate is pretty full!

      The questions about the transition back to North America will be answered as the story evolves in future posts.

      Re: “I saw my father was suffering and I could not in good conscience walk away.It changed the outcome of my life. Not for better or for worse, just different. I did what I had to do, and would do it again if faced with the same circumstances.”

      YES! Exactly. At the time I made the decision to leave Dubai and come back to Canada I really, really, REALLY didn’t want to do it for a whole bunch of reasons. I felt I was “giving up/sacrificing” my life. The decision tore me apart emotionally. While the pain of that time was very real, my thoughts on the nature of the decision have since changed. I have come to realize that I chose to start a different life from the one I was living then. Yes, not better or worse, but different. Extremely challenging, but also enriching and healing in deep and meaningful ways.

      Thanks again for following in such an engaged way. I think you will enjoy the story moving forward…

      XOX Susan


  2. We all crash through windows into the dark at some time in our lives – hopefully we land on something somewhat soft enough to cushion the blow.
    You happen to be an amazing woman ( who rocks ) can’t wait to read more.


  3. My parents had back to back illnesses, requiring home care. Dad had non Hodgkins Lymphoma and we were able to keep him at home until he passed away. Before he died, Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. For ten years, every moment not spent working was used to care for my parents. I’m not sorry I did it but I do not recommend that anyone follow my path. I have very conflicted feelings about it. As glad as I am to have been able to give my parents what they needed, there is a little core of resentment for all the things I gave up in that decade.


    1. You are right Maureen, it’s a very difficult path and surely not for everyone.

      At the moment, I feel like I’ve gained more than I’ve given up, but I surely didn’t think that would be the case when I made the choice, and who knows? My feelings may change down the line…

      I’m so glad you’re following and I’ll be interested to hear more of your thoughts and feelings if you care to share them as the story unfolds here.


  4. Yes I look forward to how you punctuate all the shifts – I have my own memories that sometimes enrich, sometimes perhaps detract from the path that you are inviting me down
    Love you and love that we have walked closer and further apart through our lives together
    Hugs Sooze


  5. Pingback: heaven can count

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