Last night I learned that an acquaintance of mine, someone I very recently re-met after thirty years, lies dying. And although I did not know her that well, she was dear to many who are dear to me.
I’m thinking about what this means.
To regain someone, and then to lose them again, all in the course of a few months.
She is my age. She was my age.
Now they wait for her son to make the decision, when to let her go.
And what has this to do with Antarctica? What has this to do with me?
Everything and nothing. Nothing and yet everything.
As most of you know, due to complications from Lyme Disease my body is failing me slowly. Like Shackleton’s ship caught in the inexorable crush of ice tightening around its hull, I can choose to stand outside myself and watch, wait for the inevitable as my world closes in and movement becomes more and more difficult until I too am stationary and waiting.
Or, I can move while I can, walk when I cannot run, attempt what seems impossible. I can grab every opportunity that comes by and hang on tight for the ride, adapting my grip as necessary. I can choose action, no matter how painful, over the relative ease of simply staying put and waiting.
L. was my age. And now that is the oldest she will ever be. I do not know if she wanted to go to Antarctica. But I know she did not want to go easily.