“The only thing I regret is not traveling enough.” -Mom
It’s 5:20 AM, and the nurses just came in to check on my mom. As I sit by her bedside I still can’t understand how such a strong woman was picked apart so quickly by the “c” word. In January of 2017 my mother called, and was frustrated that work was getting so stressful she couldn’t even type an email. “I just can’t find the words, and it feels like I’m having a mental breakdown” she told me. After a few days dealing with it she decided to get a check up, and we soon found that her frustration came from a glioblastoma tumor.
Learning about it’s aggressiveness, she was determined to fight it with everything she had. With the support of family and really good insurance she went to the best hospitals in the country, trusted the hands of world renowned surgeons, religiously watched her diet, and was the guinea pig for more clinical trials than I can even count. She took the tumor head on, and turned what should have been a 3 month span into a year and a half. She also provided tons of data for cancer research, so that one day others hopefully won’t have to fear this diagnosis.
I know this is a horrible story, and you’re probably wondering why I’m posting this on the EarthCruiser blog. Well, in these finals days of her life there have been a lot of reflection. While my mom wasn’t a hard core overland traveler, she did like to collect experiences. Starting to raise kids at 20 years old didn’t allow her much time or money to travel, but she did what she could with what she had. Camping trips to Cooks Forest in PA, visits to New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and California to visit her sister, and eventually some international travel once my sister and I were out of college. Oh, and she was my co-pilot on my cross country trip when I moved from Ohio to Oregon. These were the times she remembers most, these were her favorite times. So I wasn’t to surprised when I asked her if there is anything she regrets her quick answer was, “The only thing I regret is not traveling enough.”
Sitting here by her bedside, I cannot stop thinking about her response. She waited years to hit retirement, cash out her 401k, and begin collecting the experiences she dreamed of as a child… but she never had that opportunity. Not because she made bad life choices, but because she was waiting for the right time. Unfortunately for my mom, the right time had already passed.
The irony is that I, her son, works for an expedition travel company. I interact with people everyday who dream of travel, and help see a lot of them fulfill that dream. But how many people do I talk to that are saving up for these experiences, and come to realize they won’t happen… like my mom? I pray not many, but I do know of a few.
My motto has always been “life is too short to sit still,” and I always related that to physical activity and catering to my ADD. My mom has helped me look at that term differently now, and in a much more meaningful way. Be smart about it, but there is never a perfect time, perfect age, perfect budget, and perfect chance to collect the experiences you dream about. Find ways to make it happen, even if it isn’t the perfect way, just figure it out. In the end, you’ll be so happy you did.