Traveling to Africa: The Best Laid Plans
Time to eat my words of advice from earlier this week. Another stipulation with our luggage, one that I just HAPPENED to miss, is that we must pack in soft-sided bags for the domestic flights.
Here, you’ll see my moment of panic:
So, the nice little Samsonite suitcase I was planning on taking would no longer cut it. The thought of fitting two-weeks worth of travel gear into a duffle bag made my skin crawl. Luckily, Laura Allen gave me a pep talk that ended with, “It’s really liberating once you realize how much you can go without.”
With a new sense of determination, I packed and folded and wadded all that was possible into my duffle bag. Liberating might not be the right word for me, but somehow….I managed to do it.
That brings me to the point of this whole post: those best laid plans. I woke up at 9:00 AM on Sunday with my to-do list for the morning, all that I had planned before going to church. I knew what dress I was going to wear, what I would eat for breakfast, and whether or not I would curl my hair (I would). I think I have so much control over my life that I can plan and plan and plan and pat myself on the back when each little piece of my own puzzle comes together.
But that morning, instead of hopping in the shower and completing my mental to-do list, I received a text from my mother asking me to come upstairs (yes, I still live at home – don’t judge me. I am a recent college grad). She informed me that my Nana, one of the people I’m closest to, had suffered from a major heart attack in the middle of the night.
In that moment, all of those little plans dissolved – I learned what it feels like to buckle at the knees and catch myself in a nearby chair. There was a moment in between the news and the next sentence that seemed to last long beyond the actual pause. All of the words reverberated in my head, conjuring up the worst possibilities, until hearing, “She’s stable.”
It’s amazing how relief can sweep over you, but still leave you reeling. This changes everything – from day to day life to plans for the future. My family, who is incredibly close, had planned on a cruise at the end of June and another in September to visit the Holy Land. Apparently Nana had been informing everyone at the hospital that she told Jesus, “I’d like to see you one day, but I’d really like to see where you were born first.” It’s that spunk and positive attitude that she would never allow to be taken away from her, and it’s something that made her a bit of an oddity in CCU.
I’m so blessed with a family that can come together at a time like this and focus more on the praise – that she is still with us – than the pain – that in an instant, your life can be twisted in a way that you’d never thought to plan for. Nan is doing so well that I feel a peace about going to Africa – looking at her and hearing her, you’d never know what an ordeal the past few days have been.
It just opened my eyes to how easy it is to take people for granted, how simple you can fall into believing that your own plans are set in stone, and how important it is to savor every moment you have with your loved ones.
Before they released Nan yesterday, one of the nurses came into her hospital room and said, “You look too happy to be here.”
She replied, “Well of course I’m happy. I’m alive, aren’t I? What’s there to be sad about?”
I think that’s a philosophy worth putting into practice every day and, for that reason, I’m going to appreciate every moment of this life-changing trip that I’m about to go on.
This one’s for you, Nan.