We'd put the suitcases up on the guest bed, open and ready, a week, or maybe more, before the day of departure. We'd count out our days of outfits and swap things in and out as we changed our minds. We'd add jackets or swap long sleeves for short as we watched the temperatures on the weather maps. I'd run though my day, adding things with each new task to make sure what we needed was in there: Toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, medicines, and so on. Jammies, blankies, bedtime books. When the kids were little, it mattered so much more that all the right props were there and that planning for various circumstances was covered. I was of the opinion that I could never be one of those people who took last minute trips or did spontaneous travel because I needed at least that week to pack.
My dad was sick: Sick with some intestinal bug due to his system being weakened by his last chemo treatment. Just as soon as he got well and got his blood counts up, he and my mother were loading up the RV and heading to Arizona, where the boys and I were going to join them. We already had tickets, but had not yet begun to pack.
I called my dad around noon, and was very encouraged. He sounded so much better, he was sitting up and he'd eaten a little solid food at lunchtime. He was looking forward to the trip and to seeing the boys. We had a nice chat before he went off to give a nurse some sample or submit to some test and I went back to whatever mundane January off-season putzing I was doing.
Then mid afternoon, the call that you all your life dread came in. It was my mother: "They are moving him to ICU. They are putting him on dialysis, something about the infection shutting down his kidneys. You better come."
"You better come."
Yes, you can find a flight and arrange for limo pick-up and tell your kids the scary news and pack for 4 people in 45 minutes. And yes, you will forget some things when you pack that fast, but missing those things will not matter in the overall scheme of the far far greater loss that you are about to endure.