There is so much I want to do and so much that needs to be done.
In the spring, it seems the dream of who I want to be runs ahead of me and I find myself bursting at my edges, wanting to jump out of my skin and catch up with her, me.
But for the week that my mom and sister are here, I abandon all thoughts of not being enough and just pull my mom and sister close. Every moment with them feels tangible and focused yet free. I have two goals for the week: being with them and deciding (yet again) between becoming a nurse or a doctor. I want to be both but I can’t. Not now. When they arrive, I am pretty sure I have already made my decision but still want to talk it out just one more time.
Their first full day here we take them to Point Reyes. We park the car at Drake’s Beach and take the bus to the lighthouse ($5 per person and about an hour wait). The lighthouse itself isn’t particularly interesting but the drive out is beautiful — sorry sometimes I forget to take pictures when I am in awe! As we are climbing the steps to return to the bus, a whale jumps out and says hello.
We spend the next day in San Francisco (complete with stopping at the Fisherman’s Wharf to see the sea lions, walking Haight St. to thrift, and eating at In’N’Out) and the next we head down to Big Sur.
After a particularly harsh winter in New York, they are desperate for sun and California does not disappoint.
It’s February but feels like heaven.
Along the drive I try to share everything I’ve been thinking and feeling about the future (my future, our future, and the future of end of life care). I explain all my frustrations with our health care system and how the “care” dying people receive sometimes looks like the worst kind of torture. My mom gets frustrated, not sure what I want her to do.
And I realize I don’t want her to do anything, I am just in this world of caregiving getting a glimpse at a system that is failing our most vulnerable and silent. What can we do? Idk…
Remember the future is a hope, never a promise.
Talk about death. Create advanced directives. Tell your loved ones what you want. Sure, every situation is different, but ask yourself: what would be a good death? Tell people what you want and then make it official with documents — you can always change your mind later!
For some inspiration, listen to Planet Money’s The Town where Everyone Talks about Death.
As we talk about death and the state of dying, my decision becomes more clear until it isn’t really a decision anymore, just what I know I need to do. If I want to change the state of healthcare in this country, and I do, I will have a lot more influence as a doctor than as a nurse.
We stop for a hike on our way back from Big Sur that turns out to be more of a walk.
My mom lets my sister go ahead and as we make our way to the trail she finds this sign.
But we find her not too far ahead crossing a shallow river. She had decided to turn back on her own after meeting a snake in the path barefoot.
Our path winds around and around and opens up to a nearly empty beach.
Oh hay, just another beautiful California beach.
Of course when they leave, my life feels a bit emptier.
But then I close my eyes and picture them both curled up in bed with me and my heart is so so so so full.
Their visit also reminded me how much I love photography and how I have been ignoring that part of me. When I do take my camera out now, my photos feel like they are more of the same. I feel stuck and I need to change that.
More photos, more photos, more photos all the time!
Those last two photos are actually from our first day at Point Reyes, but posts always seem to flow better with sunset photos at the end. =)1