June 19, 2021
What Matters? What’s important to me
I remember my 50th year as a time of great energy coming together within me, a feeling of momentousness, of arrival at a level of experience, knowledge and capability that was ready to enable and empower me. Then my body gave me a galvanizing shock. I collapsed at my office, which suddenly led to a need for a new way of living, thinking, doing. That was 1996-97.
In 2005, I realized a dream to own a home with a large yard in which to garden in the bucolic Beverly neighborhood. One early spring morning I left home feeling overflowing with joy and energy. I don’t jog but that morning I wanted to jog. Suddenly I felt my legs give way. I awoke face down in a cushion of thick unmown grass. I knew what had happened. I gathered myself, my glasses and my bags and made it to the station in time to catch my train. Once at work I contacted my care team. My heart had gone into ventricular fibrillation. My defibrillator had shocked me back.
Life has a way of ordering my priorities. I have continued to get messages from my body when things are going wrong for which I am deeply grateful. I am not ready to go. I have unfinished work to do. I love life. But. Things are going the wrong direction again, something I’ve dreaded hearing since I was first told I would need a heart transplant 15 years ago. Now I’m too old for a transplant. Friday my doctor told me it’s time for a heart pump. There’s a small window, it needs to be now. I said yes without ambivalence after years of telling doctors I wouldn’t go there.
So. This is what matters to me: to live, to spend time with you, to enjoy bucolic Westminster Place in bucolic Evanston, to garden, to enjoy.
The rest of my intentions are good and I will do what can to finish my beloved projects, which is telling the story of my father’s WWII service because he couldn’t. That story also includes my mother, his lifelong lifeline of support. I understand them better now.
And that is what I wanted.
The next pandemic is already here: fungi for which we have no cure and which is endemic to warmer climates. Read all about it in the June, 2021 issue of Scientific American and find out the role that dogs will play in keeping us safe!