Other, More Important Reasons

If you’ve ever regretted missing something due to work (a wedding, a funeral, a once-in-a-lifetime occasion) I have a story for you today.

When Paul Baiguerra wrote me with this touching piece yesterday, we had just lost our beloved dog Kinsey to cancer about four hours earlier. During Kinsey’s last days, I was happy that I work from home and that I was able to spend so much time with him.

So when Paul wrote me with this, I couldn’t deny the power of this message and the incredible coincidence of the timing.

Somtimes there are other, more important reasons.

And now, the post from Paul:

We’d been expecting it for so long that when it finally arrived it was a shock. I can still clearly see the Palliative Care Nurse choosing her phrasing very carefully. We were visiting for the night and would return the following week - she suggested we may want to stay.

My mother-in-law was first diagnosed around two years ago, initially ovarian cancer with some spread to the stomach. Whilst the initial prognosis was very bad we were fortunate to have a highly skilled surgeon and care team. The operation could not have gone better. Shirley was also one of those rare patients who responded resoundingly well to Chemo - it was effective and she felt no more from it than tired.

We dodged a bullet.
Or so we thought.

Several months ago lesions reappeared in the liver. My wife and her family were back on the roller coaster. Drug regimes would recommence, reassurances about how well Shirley responded last time were bandied about, and I could see my wife jump a little every time the home phone rang. Only parents ring the home phone - everyone else calls the mobile.

Yesterday what we were expecting came to pass. Shirleys life now is being measured in days, soon hours, soon no more.

My wife and I run a small digital business. Two years ago I sold out of the production company I was a partner in and we moved to the coast determined to work ‘on-line’, giddy with the concept of lifestyle design. Like everyone else who embarks on this journey we happily imagined the revenues flowing from around the globe - we wouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves, but gosh, this could really work.

The reality is we’re doing ok, we’re paying off the house, we have some exciting projects coming up, we have months where we scramble like hell to pay the bills and months where it’s nothing but blue sky. We are not successful in the sense of having a great story to tell to sell a ton of information product (but more on success later).

We’ve imagined how in time to come we’ll pack up for months at a time and travel and work globally. We dream of a two month working holiday in my Fathers hometown in Northern Italy. We tell each other stories of how we’ll enjoy our location independence.

It’s now though that an aspect of this lifestyle that I’ve never heard discussed comes to the fore and mitigates every stressful moment of cashflow problems, or fears of having created a different kind of treadmill. That placates all those times when it felt that success would remain a faint mirage.

When the nurse let us know that Shirley was in her last days the shock of the inevitable washed over us. Two years of tensions over what may be, questions about care, uncertainty about outcome was resolved there and then. We knew it was coming but it still hit like a truck.

My wife and I knew that this was no longer an overnight trip. We’ve been able to make a few calls to get pets organized and now we are able to be here, fully here, without concerns about work places and taking leave and all the complications involved in working for someone else and having to say ‘I cannot be here’. We’ve not had to guess at a timeframe away, we’ve not had to assess impacts upon careers. We’ve just been able to say,‘we’re here, for as long as it takes’.

It’s the morning after, family is gathering, there have been teary conversations, there has been the practicalities of providing comfort. Yesterday my wife explained to the nurse that there was nothing unsaid between her and her mother, that she could quite simply be present for her and her father now. And I marvelled at the amazing upbringing my wonderful wife and her family have had. And I’ve seen success right before my eyes.

(This is Corbett again): I just read on twitter that Paul’s mother-in-law Shirley passed away today.

We’re so sorry Paul, and thanks for sharing this. Sometimes there are other, more important reasons to pursue the life you want with the urgency it deserves.

Paul Baiguerra runs the digital marketing agency known as PABA Media.

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Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I’ve been writing here since 2009. Join my email list for new articles about supporting yourself doing something you love: