I am an emotional eater. When I am worried, unsure, confused, I eat. Doesn’t matter if I’m hungry, or not. Doesn’t really matter what I’m eating either. I just want to keep filling myself up to ease the gnawing that emanates from the pit of my being at unrest.
And this weekend was just one of those times.
My youngest daughter has been in Turkey for two weeks. When first she left the unrest seemed to have quieted down. “We’re not going to go to where the demonstrators are, mum,” she told me confidently. “And anyway, the first week we’ll be in Izmir by the sea. We’ll be fine.” She and a girlfriend had met a couple of friends while at university in the Netherlands who hailed from Turkey. One was flying in from Berlin where he now works and the other was in Izmir. “They’ll make sure we’re safe,” she said.
And for the first week and a half, all was well. I’d check the headlines, not hear any word of demonstrations in Turkey and my heart would be at ease.
And then last week, the headline story on CBC was about more demonstrations in Istanbul. “We’re in Istanbul now,” she text to C.C., her sister, step-sister and myself. “It’s beautiful.”
And it was. Her pictures showed sun and mosques and golden filigree screens and the 101 scarves she seems to have felt compelled to buy. She was having fun.
And then, on Saturday she mentioned getting caught in tear gas on Friday night. What???? I missed the beginning of the circle of texts as I was in the garden puttering, enjoying the morning sunshine, revelling in the birds tweeting and the flowers coming into full bloom. Tear gas?
I text back. Tell me what happened.
I’m fine she said. Washed my eyes out when we made it back to the hotel. I’m fine.
She text a video of the event. It was creepy. They’re in a restaurant having dinner and a white billowy cloud drifts by the window. Suddenly, they’re running about, coughing, yelling. Clothes to mouths. Eyes wide and tearing. Shaky camera phone. And one man sits stoically in front of his meal and continues to eat while the others retreat as far back into the restaurant as they can.
We’re fine now, she texts back. Fine, once she’d gotten through the paroxysms of coughing and her eyes burning.
And then the texts went silent. My phone tells me my last text was undelivered. At 3am her response to my text before the last text comes in. And then it comes in again. I text back. “Did you just resend this one?”
“My text have been acting kind of weird,” she writes.
“They’re probably blocking wifi,” I respond.
Blocking wifi does not give a mother’s heart peace. Nor do stories of clearing out Geza Park with tear gas and water canons and rubber bullets.
They went out for a bit on Saturday but turned back when they smelled tear gas. On Sunday morning, we text and then that was it. I didn’t hear from her again.
Be still my beating heart.
Where is she?
Is she okay.
I stay up to watch the late news.
Go for the late late news just in case.
It doesn’t look good.
I’d sent her a news clipping the day before and she replied, Don’t watch the news. It only makes you worry.
I think of her words as I’m watching all the events in the Middle East. It is a cauldron of unrest spilling over into mayhem everywhere.
I am not reassured.
C.C. calls me from the road as he drives to Saskatoon. I tell him of my worry. He doesn’t tell me to stop worrying. I am grateful. I need this worry. The bread and cheese and chocolate I just ate hasn’t impacted it one iota but at least his words help. Worry is natural, he says, with where she’s at in the world. But she’s got a good head on her shoulders. She will keep herself out of trouble.
She was 40 minutes from Taksim Square when the tear gas found her the other night. She wasn’t looking for trouble, I remind him.
She’ll be fine and you will keep worrying because she’s your daughter. It’s okay. And he’s right. There is no easy way to ease a mother’s worry when her child is in a corner of the world thousand of miles away that is writhing in discord.
You have the number of her hotel, why don’t you call? C.C. asks.
I wait. Until almost midnight. Istanbul is 9 hours ahead. I think it’s only 8 but it’s actually 9 I discover when the lovely woman at the Pensionne tells me my daughter is sleeping. “She’s okay,” she says in her delightfully accented English. “No need to worry. We take good care of her.”
I thank her and hang up and gradually fall asleep. One more day and she’ll be home. May peace surround her.
I know my daughter may kill me for calling — and doubting — her safety. But seriously… I don’t want to eat any more bread and chocolate. This trip could cost me 20 lbs!