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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sailing, like life, is filled with all three, sometimes simultaneously. Such as it was on our most recent sail to Ocracoke Island with our friends from the Neuse Sailing Association.

We had found out right before we left that an x-ray revealed a 2” mass on the upper left lobe of the lung of my healthy, vivacious mother. This is a woman who walks daily, eats a healthy diet and maintains a healthy body weight. She does everything “right” and lives a healthy lifestyle, requiring no medications at the age of 78 so this was quite a shock. She lives in Denver near my sister who would be taking her for a PET scan on the following Tuesday so we went on with the sail.



Despite the cloud hanging over our head, we enjoyed getting out on the water on Thursday. There was a light breeze of 9-10 knots and we enjoyed tacking back and forth across the Neuse River a few times. It began to get quite warm as the day went on and the wind clocked around just enough to make it difficult to sail where we needed to go so, we motor sailed the rest of the way in.

The Neuse Sailing Association weekends are quite different in “covid-19 times”. Before we would gather together, get lots of hugs, share food and drink and hang out on each other’s boats. A crowded island during covid times had a few of us staying 6 ft apart on a relatively deserted beach. There’s something really special about having those “get real” friends…The ones you can vent to…who totally get you AND still love you. I’m lucky enough to have some of those. We drank…we floated…we vented about all the good, the bad and the ugly that was happening in our lives and in our world and in the end, felt lighter and more connected. And, we got to meet and connect with some new friends!

We decided the ideal plan was to escape to a deserted island and create our own “Waterworld” until the craziness of the US passed. We even brainstormed things that would matter most to us in our own little Waterworld..Authenticity, equality and respect of everyone, valuing the good of “all” over the “good of one”…

I found that focusing on the beauty of the present moment SOMETIMES kept the worry at bay…Beautiful sights of other boats with their sails flying, the gentle roll of the waves hitting the side of the hull, our sails full of wind, dolphins off the bow, magical sunsets and delicious foods. Other times, focusing out on others and what was happening in their lives kept me out of my head.

We set sail for home on Tuesday at first light and got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise. The wind direction and intensity was just perfect for a relaxed broad reach sail back home. That is, until we were just about to River Dunes and the threatening storms seemed to surround us. We trimmed our sails a bit then at my request, we agreed to take them down as the storms grew closer. We experienced our very first water spout just at the place we would have been had we NOT agreed to douse the sails so felt good about our decision. We got home safely.

That night, we got a call that the PET scan showed cancer in the spine. My dear sweet mom was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. All she could do was keep apologizing for making everyone sad and being a “bother”. The woman who gave me life and loves me unconditionally. The one I would do anything for… A biopsy Thursday will confirm the type and then we can go about treatment.

Yes, sailing has a lot in common with life. We can be sailing along, relaxed and calm, enjoying the moment when all of a sudden something scary or life threatening comes along. Sometimes it’s enough to trim the sails but other times require the sails to come down. And still others require a wait in the harbor until the storm passes. That’s also why sailors know that plans are always written in sand. We don’t know what’s next but have faith we can handle it…

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