Two Helicopters

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Regular readers will have noted my absence on occasion for the last few days and suspected the reason for it. It’s very hard for me to know what to write at this time which will keep the spirit and character of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  alive and providing the same kind of distraction from the vagaries of life which it has provided for me and many readers. However, I can’t stray far from what it has grown to be. The tag line probably says it best. A Daily Journal of a Permanent Resident of Paradise.  If I abandon the true concept of a journal and simply keep it light and full of lots of pretty pictures, the occasional minor complaint about life in general,  a healthy dose of outrageous opinion and some hopefully funny stories, I could probably enjoy a continuation of the growing readership and nothing much would change.

There are a couple of problems with that. First, it would be a sham. Second, I couldn’t pull it off.

Unfortunately, there is no real paradise here on earth, no matter how much we may wish it. Life can transport us along the sweet path for decades and then take a sudden turn. Only fools believe otherwise. I chose my title and images carefully today, though the reason may not be obvious until you’ve read the rest of this.

Less than two weeks ago, I was out taking shots in a Heli Niugini helicopter, enjoying the scenery and the free ride. I knew that Eunie was sick and we would likely have to go to Cairns to have her checked out, but our hopes were high that it would involve some minor surgery of some sort, probably removal of the gall bladder, at most, and that would be that:

Now, as I sit in front of the hospital alone, gathering my thoughts and watching a medevac helicopter spooling up for a run for someone probably far less fortunate than us, the irony does not excape me. Life can change in the blink of an eye. The situation today is very much different and the hopes have changed radically. There is a high likelihood that there is something very wrong inside my beloved woman. We have no biopsy reports yet, so there is no certainty either way. However, we’ve been told to plan for chemotherapy, probably combined with radiotherapy:

Until we know, there is always hope that what seems very nasty may not be as bad as it looks. Even so, because of the nature of the “mass” it is going to change life for us.

So, what of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi?  Well, I am hoping that I can find the strength and wisdom to let it continue to be what is has been for nearly three years now. For me it has been a creative outlet which has given me a new kind of discipline and provided me with a sort of confessional booth in which I can let my thoughts, opinions and feelings drift through the curtain and come back to me filtered through the minds and hearts of others through comments, Facebook and emails. For my readers, most of whom I have never met, but have nevertheless come to cherish as friends – even confidants of a sort – it has provided amusements and distractions which come from off the beaten path. I want to continue that relationship with my readers and enjoy the pleasure that it has given me. I have no intention of leaving those treasures behind as we follow this new path which is being laid out, brick by brick, before us.

I have no idea what the future will be. All I know is that it is going to be very much different from that which I envisioned a month ago. However, our situation – that of life-changing swirls in the current which carrys us along – is not different from that potentially facing anyone reading my words at this moment nor, in fact, anyone on the planet.

Eunie and I have been friends, partners, lovers and soul mates for nearly half a century. This gives us the strength of lions.

This is the hand which we have been dealt. We will play it together.

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15 Responses to “Two Helicopters”

  1. Eunice H. Says:

    Jan, the words of an almost-old hymn came to mind as I read today’s post. “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.”

  2. Carolyn Says:

    Wholley moley – how courageous you are J an. I am crying writing this and I have never met you or Eunie. Life is a pain and throws at us things that we dont want but accept we must. I can only wish you much strength as you and your lovely wife take on the treatment to get her better.

    In the meantime I sincerely hope you continue to blog – that is purely selfish. You have given me a window on the country I love so much and am about to call home (finally if only for a few years). I love your photography and hope that you can document your blog with photos if words become too difficult in coming weeks.

    Take care
    & family

  3. Roztafarian Bill Says:

    …and you’ve given many of us a window to a world we are not likely ever to see, as eye-witness. But you’ve also given us a window to meet some really nice people.

    Praying for healing for Eunie and strength for you Jan.


  4. Rick Loftus, M.D. Says:

    Jan, while a new reader I have been enchanted by your beautiful photos and joie de vivre. I was hopeful it was just gallstones for Eunie. As you face the uncertainties ahead, keep in mind that even the best docs can never ever predict what will happen–we are all individuals, not statistics. I will keep you both in my prayers, as I am sure hundreds of other readers are doing. Please keep us posted as you are able. -Rick Loftus, M.D.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Dr. Rick, thanks for your complementary words for MPBM. I’m pleased that it has amused you and hope it provides the diversion for which it is designed.

    We’re switched-on enough to realise that a great deal of medical science is simply a practical application of statistics combined with gathering as much data as possible. Our own son is an Epidemiologist working with McMaster University in cancer research. Moreover, I take your remark on board that statistics are essentially meaningless on the individual level. That’s what the bell curve tells us.

    Also, I’m sure in line with your own thinking, if I’m reading you correctly; we don’t depend on doctors to make miracles. That’s God’s job. Doctors are good, caring people and diligent in their professional efforts. They care about their patients and the outcomes of their efforts. I think miracles can come about from God’s guidance of a doctor’s hands. However, there are infinite other ways in which God might achieve the same result.

    We are hopeful. These are the cards we have. We’ll play them together.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  6. MadDog Says:

    As always, Bill, I’m gratified by your comment and encouraged to continue. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for both of us.

  7. MadDog Says:

    Carolyn, I’m not feeling particularly brave right now – more like a cowboy with a six-shooter facing a hundred bandits. How busy am I going to be and can I keep them off my wife? Desperate is probably a better word. However, a desperate man can be fairly strong. She is all that counts. I’ll have little mercy for anything that gets in my way.

    I am going to continue to write my journal daily, if at all possible. I may be occasionally absent, but it is something that I need. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

  8. MadDog Says:

    Well, Eunice, that pretty well sums up how were feeling right now. I am amazed at Eunie’s composure. I only wish I was as strong as her. Thanks for commenting. We appreciate the turmoil and sudden difficult changes that this situation has caused at the office. However, the trumpet is sounding and the troops are responding. Praise God!

  9. Kate Says:

    Jan, I am dumbstruck – Eunie of all people?? We will be thinking of you and I will keep an eye on your blog for updates. Most importantly, good luck. Kate, Laurens, Matilda and Freddie (Beach 2008/2009)

  10. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Kate, for your message. We can add your wishes for good luck to all of the others coming in a flood of love and caring. I will keep the news flowing as it comes. Stay tuned.

  11. Milly Says:

    Really not sure what to say other than I am terribly sorry for the turn of events you and Eunie are facing. Most definitely will be in my prayers- and wishing for the best.
    Hoping you will be able to continue your journal as it has been an amazing ride (and place of escape) the past few years and would be sorely missed by many.
    Stay strong,

  12. kristy Says:

    I have only been reading your blog for a short while now, but have really enjoyed the peek into Papua New Guinea and your family. Have been out of technical touch for a couple of weeks while on a trip and only just today saw your post. Hugs and prayers to both of you! May God grant you the peace to deal with whatever news comes your way. Praying for Eunie even as I type!

  13. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Milly. There isn’t much to say, is there. Sometimes we just have to walk the path until something comes up that we’re able to talk about. I’m happy to hear that my journal has given you pleasure and I have no intention to give it up. The kind words of my readers mean much to me. – Jan

  14. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, it means a lot to us whenever we hear that someone is praying. I’m glad my journal has brought you amusement and diversion. Now I have many friends who know Eunie through my writing and are thinking and praying about her. It’s a genuine blessing. – Jan

  15. MadDog Says:

    Pretty good choice of words, Kate – dumbstruck, gob smacked – there are a lot of good expressions. The rain falls on all of us. Thanks for your good wishes. There will be good times again – sometime. – Jan