Ben and Sara’s latest trip began in Munich for Oktoberfest, continued with a few days in Mallorca, then moved on to Sydney, Australia. They were to have been home a couple of weeks ago.
While having breakfast at a hotel in Sydney, Ben felt something catch in his throat, but it seemed to pass. By the time they were upstairs he was feeling ill, and they got a cab to go to the hospital where Ben was diagnosed with an esophageal tear — an immediate and life threatening medical emergency. The small hospital sent him on to a major critical care hospital via ambulance. He had emergency surgery, and spent the next three weeks recuperating in Sydney, just returning to the US this week. Sara was with him the whole time, having arranged with Amazon to work remotely from there.
Once again, I’m struck by the randomness of life. Ben’s emergency happened in Sydney, where there is excellent medical care — not in Mallorca, where the options would have been much more limited. He was with Sara, not alone late at night in a hotel room. I’m biased because Sara is my daughter, but in a crisis, she’s a person I’d want with me. She’s calm, quickly intuits what needs to happen, and — more rare — has a quiet force of personality to demand follow through. Ben has medical insurance that will cover the costs, although he would have been treated anyway. And absent some of the regulations that govern medical care here, the Australian system accepted Sara as the person to speak for him and be with him in the ICU, even though they are not married.
This untoward and quite random event makes me aware yet again of the preciousness of life, and of the simple good luck of being in the right place at the right time with the right person. It doesn’t make me afraid to travel. Minga’s untoward event happened in the comfort and safety of her own home, as she tripped and did a face plant on her concrete floor — she needed three stitches to close a lip wound. But Ben and Sara’s experience reminds me anew that life can change in instant — sometimes things come back around, and sometimes they don’t. There is no time to waste in life, and no pass on being aware and intentional and grateful for the day.
They got back to Seattle just in time to celebrate Ben’s birthday. which felt extra special to have him sitting there and smiling and ready to enjoy his cupcake. 🙂