I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this is not my favorite time of year. To be frank, the past weeks have been hard on me; I've been frustrated with work, anxious about life choices, worried about loved ones and just generally lethargic. All the everyday rituals have been carried out like normal, but without joy. Working, eating, running, sleeping - even dating - nothing has felt really, truly fun. I've lined up supposedly exciting things I could (and should!) do, but kept coming back to the same question: why? Why bother?
Today was Friday and I felt right from the start that it was going to be a sad story. Grey skies and wet streets. The morning workout a paltry yawn. Sitting down at my desk at work I felt utterly sorry for myself, dreading the series of emails I would have to deal with during the day. But then Nancy came into the lab and told us about a postdoc that had been with us for a brief period about 1.5 years ago. This girl had come to our lab from California to help out with a project, but pretty much disappeared merely a few weeks into her stay. She was ill, we learned. Very ill. Hospitalized. After a couple of months she suddenly reappeared and we were all happy to see her, and she started working on her project again. This time, however, she didn't last more than a couple of weeks; she vanished once more from our radar. The last email I sent her was from January last year; I asked her how she was doing, if she was still in the hospital and if there was any way I could come say hi. I never got a response. This morning Nancy told us that she died, just a few days ago.
I never really got to know this girl, but she was my age. And she died. Just like that.
It took me a couple of hours of further self-pity for it to sink in, but after texting with my sister-friends back home, telling them about my February gloom, I realized that it was really quite stupid of me to sit and cry at my desk just because the weather isn't that great right now. Because you know what? I'm alive.
Encouraged by my friends' peptalking I suddenly made a decision. I've been thinking about going to Hawaii quite a while, and I realized that there is no time like the present. Said and done: plane tickets acquired, hotel booked. February 25th, I'm outta here! It's only a short trip to Kauai; 4 nights, to be precise, but it doesn't matter. I'm going, and I'm not dead.
For those who leave too soon, I bow my head. The least we can do is learn something, and I think I just did.