Recently, my husband and I toyed around with the Amtrak website pricing out long trips around the country. It’s not a cheap way to travel, so we figured that we could take a two day trip to the West Coast after tax return time. That would still give us enough money to put gutters on the house. Ah, the domestic life. And we all know what the Beatles say about that, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.”
The truth is that we didn’t have a summer because it was swallowed up by my husband’s cancer diagnosis. The harder truth is that he’s still sickly and weak, throwing up occasionally and weighing a mere 150 lbs. (He’s 6 foot tall.) Recently, I learned through his pastor that he thinks he has been given a gift. The gift being the ability to appreciate each day that he has left in his life.
I asked my husband later if he thought it was his time to go. He replied that he didn’t know. That is the kicker to life. We just don’t know when our last day approaches. There isn’t any warning usually. Even doctors give their best estimates and are known to be wrong. So, how do we plan for life?
We treat it like a long distance train trip. There are many destinations along the way and there is a load we carry. This load disappears by the end of the journey, so we don’t have to worry about it in the afterlife. We “engineer” the rails and choose our path as we go with derailments and emergency stops. At some point, the locomotive engineer realizes the end of the line is coming. Innately, we can have that feeling sometimes although it doesn’t apply to everyone. Sometimes, we can’t foresee the train-car accidents that may occur when the gates don’t go down and the flashers fail. We can choose to live day by day and cherish what time we have left. To not be aware of our journey is a grave error because every trip must end. There are only so many segments allowed.
To the End of the Line
The train left the station over fifty
years ago, destinations stretched
mile after mile with only pictures
left behind as documents. Boxcars
once filled with grain, now travel
empty, having been deposited along
the journey. Sadness overcomes the
locomotive engineer for he knows
the longest night is upon him.