There are times where you can see life, specifically your life, changing around you gradually. Where you have come from is clear and where you are likely going to end up (not discussing choices now, just obvious directions).
And then there are those moments, perhaps but certainly not more than a few hours where everything permanently and radically changes. I went through that 18 years ago and everything has faded to the point where the information sits quietly in the background and only occasionally ambushed me. For others, that point is current and acutely painful causing a reexamination of life, plans and the future.
So it is for a colleague with whom I had lunch on Wednesday. I remember him from 2000 when I was stationed at the SanAk as a cheerful but serious, studious officer committed to both medicine and the military. His off time as a single person was devoted to travel, specifically to Thailand where he continued to work at several clinics which has been established during one of his deployments to the area. The last time he returned, he did so with the unexpected complication of a pulmonary embolus probably secondary to the the long plane flight.
Now as a person who rarely drank, never smoked and always lived his life in moderation, this was a serious change in his life and short term travel limits. Not to be outdone, about six months later within the space of 24 hours a small bit of upper back pain turned out to be a major evolving myocardial infarction. No family history, no nothing and not 60 till his next birthday.
What do you do when you are on your own, your cardiac function is now so low that you are being retired. Your daily regime includes more than 40 pills a day and your doctors have basically suggested that traveling more than an hour from a major medical center would be extremely stupid. Your plans of Thailand as a long term member of the clinic are gone. In fact, trekking and travel are pretty much gone.
My choices were much simpler not being in the “drop dead tomorrow without any notice” category. But given the choices I made 18 years ago, it is obvious that my thoughts tend toward quality over quantity. I am decidedly happy that I have my current health, my husband enjoys his job and my offspring are all busy with their lives.
So I travel, meet people, knit, read and write this blog on those days when I have internet connectivity. Multiple ways, I goes, to leave a little of oneself behind.