It is almost time to go back to my real life. It's funny, but I hardly remember what it was like. It's not that my "real life" was bad in any way, I've lived a very pleasant existence, but for over a month my reality has been; go see Dale, work from the hospital, come home to hang out with Wolf, work some more, go to bed, try to sleep, rinse and repeat. It sounds kind of nuts, but I've enjoyed it very much. Of course if Dale's outcome had been different, I would not be able to say that.
Sure, the traffic is crazy, my car was broken in to, I'm spending nearly every day at the hospital, I'm sleeping on the couch and the neighbors upstairs have lousy taste in music (can you say "turn down the base"?)...but still, I've rarely, if ever, felt more fulfilled or happy.
Why is that, I keep asking myself?
I've come to a several conclusions:
- I am helping my cousin, who is a really good person in need of assistance. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to help him, even a little bit, in his time of need. I help people in my work every day and it is extremely fulfilling, but this is different. Entirely different.
- I've gotten to know Cousin Dale better than I ever expected to. I've always adored him, and we've always been able to talk for hours, but now I know what is in his heart, and it's a very good heart.
- I have been spending time with my son. Since he moved away several years ago, we've not had nearly enough time together. My trips here and his trips back to Montana have usually been short, hurried affairs, and it never felt like I had enough time to spend with him. On this trip we've had a lot of quality time together. I've seen the person he's become and I am very happy, proud and pleased.
- I have spent countless hours donating blood products on this trip. I've given every blood product imaginable, as often as I was allowed to. If you are a healthy person, age 17 or over, and weigh 110# or more, please consider donating. The need is staggering. Every 3 seconds, someone needs blood. About 60 percent of the population are eligible to donate blood, yet less than five percent do. Whole blood can be given every 56 days, but you can donate platelets as often as twice a week. Platelet donation is relatively simple and painless and accomplished through Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis) which is a special kind of blood donation where blood is drawn from your arm through sterile tubing into a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood to separate the components, which vary in weight and density. A port is opened along the spinning tubing at the level containing platelets. These platelets are drawn up into a collection bag, while the remaining blood components (red cells and plasma) are returned to you. Platelets are only viable for 5 days, so if you consider that a heart surgery patient requires 6 units of platelets and the average bone marrow transplant patient needs 120, you'll see that the need for donations is vast and continuous. So please, step up and help to save a life. Please, I beg of you, click here for more information.
- And finally, I have learned a lot about myself on this trip. I'm a lot more self-confident these days, for one reason or another. I've learned to (don't laugh) navigate the big city (with help from my Virtual Navigator Lady) and managed to thwart a potential mugging (or worse). I've learned that car windows are just car windows and stereos are just stereos. Losing them, while frustrating, is not very important in the grand scheme of things. I've learned that a task that may seem overwhelming at first can usually be accomplished by taking it step by step. I've overcome my fear of hospitals, my fear of needles and my fear of escalators (don't ask). I've learned that the world is a big and often beautiful place and I think I'd like to explore more of it.
So now I am preparing to leave Denver and go back to my real life. Dale is doing well (see future post) and my presence here is no longer needed. I will probably leave on Monday morning to go back to eastern Montana. But I'm not the person I was when I left there. I've changed, in a great many ways. I am starting to see the big picture, now, and I know that I will never be the same.
Times, they are a changin'.
Times, they are a changin'.
Update: Dale has had a setback, hopefully minor, and he is back in the hospital. I will be staying on for at least a few more days to be sure he is alright. I will keep you posted.