Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Biting the Bullet
There are those moments in life, memorable moments, when it seems that it is all on the line. They are those times when one is most focused on the situation at hand, and any thoughts of the future become meaningless. Often, they are moments of grave danger that summon up all of one's physical and mental abilities with only one thought in mind: survive, survive the moment.
Those of us who do risky sports eventually meet up with such a moment. It often occurs in an instant, unanticipated and looms so large before us that we can see nothing else. Everything is suddenly on the line, and what happens in the next moment may determine whether we live and die. It is only afterward, after we've survived, that we know the fear and can begin to process what has just occurred. It is also a time when one learns the value of a good friend.

Obviously, I haven't experienced life-threatening conditions out kayaking...at least not yet this year. But last week a vague monster suddenly loomed before me and life and death seemed to hang in a delicate balance. The details are not important here. Let me just say that for a few days it seemed likely that I had cancer. During those days I lived in a bit of a haze as I vacillated between hope and despair. Strangely, I found that my biggest fear was actually sadness. Sadness that I wouldn't be seeing  my grandchildren grow older. It was then that the mysterious helpers appeared.

Friends who knew something was going on came to me and comforted me. They had no idea what I was facing, but they knew I was having difficulty and they were there to support me. Some with words, some with
e-mails and some with unobtrusive companionship as I waited out the hours until I could get into the hospital for my testing. I cannot recall that time in any more detail. I am just glad it has passed. I took my test yesterday and it was okay.
In an instant, like a white water paddler just escaping a hole or a sea kayaker rolling up in a huge wave, it was over. The threat was gone and the surprisingly hard job of returning to normality had begun. As I post this, I am wrung out, hopeful and grateful. I am grateful for my life and the fact that it looks like I am getting to have a bit more of it. I am grateful for my friends who were like the wing men in the F-105's I knew during the war. They are, I realize, always there to lend a hand, cover my back or offer a T-rescue. In the end, there has been a gift here, one which I graciously and humbly accept. It's good to be back.

Paddle safe...
DS

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that things are o.k...At times like this we do start to take a look at what is most important to us in our lives and what we can do so make it better...in your case, you can know that you have touched many people with your blog and teachings. Glad that you will be able to continue with both!

Silbs said...

I appreciate your kind words.

J said...

Live Large Silbs!

Silbs said...

You got it, J.

Duncan said...

In the sharing of your very personal story, Silbs, you remind us to let no moment slip casually by. Each is to be valued, for each is a treasure...even the ones that are so very difficult. Often we find that it is something in those moments, in retrospect, that has touched us deep within - with warmth and strength. Take good care.

steve said...

WoW, glad youre out of the danger zone and back to your life. Im sure everything is a little bit more intense and tasty right now. Keep blogging, were watching and listening.and anyway you need to visit before its too late.

DaveO said...

Sounds like you were looking into the abyss and got the privilege of stepping back from it. Keep 'going for it'. It keeps us all young. Glad to hear I'll still be able to abuse you at various locations around the lake this summer.

Stan Mac Kenzie said...

It must have been wrenching being a "medicine man" on the other side. So much thinking I am sure. So very happy for you. Very pleased for our kayaking world. Life is good! Take care Silbs.

Silbs said...

Hey, Duncan, Steve and DaveO. Your responses are very supportive and much appreciated. It has been a unique and strange (for me) experience which I am still processing. It helps to know folks like you and J and A are out there and share that zest for living. Paddle on, Paddle safe...

Derrick said...

Um, well, you know. :) Good news.

Silbs said...

Word.