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Life Happens

“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.” (Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye)

What we won't remember
What we won’t remember

If things had been going according to plan, I’d be writing this post from Switzerland, on the last leg of a three-week trip that was to begin with a flight into Zurich, take us through the Alps and into Italy before ending in Geneva.

It was a trip planned with love and care by a husband who can stretch airline miles, find the best deals, and uncover the splurges that make for the kind of memories that shine through the years like slivers of gold at the bottom of a creek.

The kind of trip very fortunate people can plan.

Then, as some like to say, life happened, or as others put it, shit happened. Within forty-eight hours of our departure, a stomach virus hit us both, a loved one was in a frightening car accident, and even though we told ourselves we’d be fine and our kids told us they’d be fine, my husband looked at me hours before we were to board the plane and said, “I just don’t think this feels right.”

We canceled. Our Cairn terrier, who had been watching the packing with growing concern, relaxed. So, for a few days, did we.

Then another loved one got some troubling news and we planned a new trip, one that took us to Burbank where we spent time with him in doctor’s waiting rooms, labs, and keeping him company while he waited for the results of scans and biopsies. The results came. They weren’t what any of us wanted to hear.

When we look back at this time, we will probably remember the shock, and the pain that followed, but we will also remember how we all gathered the night of the day we got the bad news. We will see the meal our kids, still recovering from the car accident, prepared for their uncle and us. We will see the loved faces around the table as we passed the food, poured the wine, shared old familiar stories. We will drink in the laughter that bubbled through our uncertainty and both anchored and lifted us. We will remember how grateful we felt to have each other and to be with each other instead of thousands of miles away.

It is the kind of moment, and memory, that truly fortunate people can have.


  1. Bets…I have been trying to find a way…some way to even explain to my friends what things have been like the past month. So if you are ok with it, I will share this on my not-so-visited-much-lately-by-me Facebook page. You always sum things up with such love and care with your beautiful writing. We love you. We will all get through this. And hey…maybe since I have been wanting to see Switzerland again for so very long I can somehow visit that part of the trip at least with you guys some days. xo

  2. This is beautiful, Betsy. You capture that moment, that awful yet sacred moment when our lives change in an instant, & we are reminded what matters. Your husband sounds like an amazing soul. “This doesn’t feel right.” Wow. Talk about listening to the universe. I send love to you & your family. Please let us know what we can do to support you.

  3. Betsy, Even as I read this stunning, heart-wrenching piece just now, I was also thinking of friends with whom to share it. Grace and luck and good fortune come in so many forms, often well-disguised. But you know where to look for blessings in this life, and your beautiful words remind me to see them too. Sending love and healing wishes to you and your family. Yes, you are right where you need to be.

  4. Beautiful words, Betsy. August and September have been tough months in this household, too. Nothing like what you describe, though. It is a help to be reminded of the gifts we have because all of our three-generation family are together and get along so well.

  5. The way you weave together your experience is stunning, although difficult, also beautiful due to the threads that connect us to what matters most, love. Thank you.

  6. Sentiments and emotions beautifully balanced with the pragmatic, and your – and your family’s – natural ability to always see the silver lining.

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