July 2, 2012
Time Waits for No One
Two years ago on a flight from Phoenix to Denver, I met a woman named Lara. We talked the entire flight, and never spoke again. Yet what she shared with me about her life, and what later happened to her in those two years since we met, has stayed with me, and will stay with me, forever. I remembered her one night recently as I tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep, obsessing over a dumb, stressful, conflict I had with a coworker earlier that evening. Suddenly, I mean suddenly, I remembered Lara.
It was December when we happened to meet standing in line waiting to board a Southwest Airlines flight to Denver. She made a joke, can't remember now about what, but I right away liked her sense of humor. Lara was tall, with sleek brown hair, and atheltic looking. She looked like a woman who could hold her own, a no nonsence honesty about her.
We happened to sit beside each other and she told me she wanted to write a book. What do you know, I said. I'm a writer. I get bored just hearing myself talk about me, so I asked her what she wouild like to write her book about.
When I remembered, I checked her blog now and then and saw Lara and her husband were having plenty of adventures and fun. They wrote about challenges with the boat and even took photos of the military who boarded their ship in Columbia. They were also eating a lot of fresh fruit, and meeting quirky people and enjoying the sea. Lara looked as if she was having the time of her life.
One day I looked at her blog again. It was December, a year since we had met. Lara and her husband were in New Zeland. She had gotten ill, dizzy, problems with her balance, and went to a hospital there. She had a brain tumor. From there the sailing blog took a tragic turn. Lara and her husband returned to the United States, sold the boat to a young couple, and she began treatment in Phoenix. Lara died soon thereafter. The blog was full of tributes to her accomplished life.
So late the other night, as I worried about my silly job, I remembered Lara. I remembered her plans, her hopes, her dreams. I thought of the unfinished business we all will have at our death. She never did get around the world, but she tried. I told Lara's story to someone and they said, "at least she got to do what she loved to do." And that's true. It's just that we all have a deadline.
Here's the collage I made with pictures representing events in my novel. I've had this in my office for at least two years. No more wasting time. All those images will be transfered from my imagination to words on paper. Thanks, Lara, for reminding me that time waits for no one. Your spirit, your desire to achieve a long cherished goal, lives on. I'll be able to complete my goal of writing a novel which often feels as daunting as sailing around the world. At least, like Lara, I'll try. That's the best any of us can do.