When my wife and I got married, the first place we rented was an old, circa 1890’s, shotgun-style house near downtown Baton Rouge.
It had seen better days, but we started scrubbing and painting a month before we got married. The foundation was crumbling near the kitchen, couldn’t do much about that, and there was a list aft. If you dropped a tennis ball by the front door, it would roll all the way to the backdoor and out, it was open ...
House was cheap, located bicycle-convenient for college, and my part-time job, and we were nineteen. We were bulletproof.
We rented it at the tail-end of hurricane season, and there was one late-storm whirling about in the Gulf that might have headed our way. It didn’t, but we weren’t worried about it, using one of the classic examples of bad reasoning: Well, we thought, the house has been here eighty-some years, probably withstood fifteen or twenty hurricanes just fine, so one more won’t hurt it ...
This is, in a word, foolish, because a thing can be fine — until it isn’t. You are alive and kicking, but if you get hit by a train, maybe not so much.
My wife and I have been largely blessed with good health. Bumps and lumps, sprains and pains, even a couple broken bones, but neither of us has spent a night in the hospital in nearly fifty years. Some day-surgery stuff, but nothing major.
We eat pretty well, take vitamins, exercise, get check-ups regularly, take our vaccines, keep eyes and teeth attended to as needed.
We know that doesn’t make us invulnerable — in theory — but the reality is like that hurricane philosophy. Everything is fine until it isn’t.
So, buried lede here: My wife had a small stroke about ten days ago. We got to the ER in time for the miracle clot-buster drug, which reversed most of her signs and symptoms, but in the follow-up, found a cardiac arrhythmia that needed a pacemaker, so that was done. Five days at in the hospital, two in NCCU.
No family history of either thing on her side.
We are home, recovering slowly, getting set up with doctors to monitor things, appropriate meds, and all like that.
Since she is at the top of my list, everything else will come a distant second. You won’t see me far from home without her or somebody standing by for a while.
My family and friends have stepped up, and we do appreciate it.
IIWII — it is what it is. One moment, one day at a time.
This is my warning, heads-up to you who think as we thought:
The next step you take can be a serious pivot, a wrenching, ankle-twisting turn onto a path you never saw coming, and it might not be your choice. And it could be the last step you take.
Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t live in that future you think is ahead. Don’t waste time fretting over the past you can’t change. Be in the moment, be here now, because that might be all you get.
Sure, make plans, but don’t live there until they arrive.
If my wife comes back, 100% — and that is our goal — things won’t be the same. Because now, what we thought was a vague, but remote, possibility, cannot be ignored. We aren’t out of the woods yet, and if we do walk from the forest, the next trees are not far off the road.
If you aren’t ready to hear this, you won’t. If you have had to do it, you already know. But, please think about it. You can’t foresee the unforeseeable, but you can take joy in the moment on your plate right now.
Don’t let yesterday and tomorrow steal now from you.