I left work early today and have the rare privilege of not having any scheduled activities for the weekend. It’s not often that I get a weekend to myself to just be and enjoy my house, but usually once every couple of months a weekend like this rolls around. I typically spend my time catching up on non-work-related-reading, cleaning out my DVR, and doing some deep-cleaning by going through closets and cabinets.
Tonight, I found myself cleaning out my entry-way closet. I store my cardigans and jackets there, along with gift wrap and the vacuum. On the top shelf sits a pink bag with my initials monogramed onto it. I believe I received it as a high school graduation gift, but it may have come into my possession some other way. This is my go-bag. Every few months, I check the go-bag to ensure that the toothpaste hasn’t leaked, the clothes still fit, and it has shoes appropriate for the season inside.
Twice I have found myself being admitted to the hospital through the emergency surgery route. Both times I was helplessly unprepared for a hospital stay, resulting in my mom or my friends going through my possessions and attempting to collect life’s little necessities. Now, I keep a little pink bag with all of the necessary items in a space that would be easy for anyone to pick up and bring to the hospital.
I have not been hospitalized for more than a day since early 2011, a fact that I am most grateful for and attribute completely to the careful watch of my doctors. However, each time I open my closet, I am reminded of the fact that on any given day, I could be reminding someone I love where the go-bag resides. Those who come into my home and hang up their jackets rarely ask anymore what is inside the bag – they’re all well-versed in my crisis plan and know the steps that must be taken should I end up not coming home one night.
Also in the top of my closet lies a manila envelope. This envelope contains information for a life insurance policy that I carry for myself, my power-of-attorney and living will, and a letter to two of my uncles. I have not yet been able to steel myself to write letters to my parents, brother, or close friends. Instead, I decided to write two letters to two of my uncles, leaving them instructions for carrying out my last wishes should the unthinkable happen.
These weighty topics are not those that most 23 year olds have ever given much thought to, but these are issues that I consider even at times when my health is at its best. Occasionally, I will glance at the bag and envelope and realize how far I have come since my health was in dire straights in 2010. Other times, I will glance at the items and feel resentful for the fact that I have to take such precautions. Either way, I want to be ready for what life throws at me next. Being prepared makes me feel like I have more control over what happens next and is a coping strategy that I find comforting and meaningful. So, until the seasons change again, I am ready.