Unexpected Complications

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
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Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Friday, October 22, 2004

Tomorrow Sharon is undergoing eye surgery to help correct a problem that has been developing over the past seven or eight months. After very successful cataract and laser surgery last year, Sharon's sight has become progressively and more variably blurred to the extent that she has not been able to drive for the past six months and now has difficulty reading. It has finally been diagnosed as a very severe case of vitreous detachment, with substantial build-up of debris within the eyes. The procedure tomorrow is called a "vitrectomy", and is being carried out on the left eye by one of the top eye surgeons in Ottawa on an out-patient basis. We have been very fortunate to be able to get the problem attended to at such short notice, and are assured that it is now a relatively routine procedure with low risk (rated at one half of one percent). With a few days rest it should heal completely, and is expected to give very significant improvement in her vision. Continuing on our trip in November should pose no problem. Surgery on the right eye will wait until we are back in Ontario next summer.

Meanwhile, the Peruvian customs officials continue to be bureaucratically stubborn and will allow us no extension to our 90 day vehicle permit. Despite several representations on our behalf by the Canadian Embassy in Lima, there can apparently be no extension granted due to our circumstances as, quote... "this was not contemplated in their regulations"... unquote. Apparently, if we do not have our van out of Peru by Nov 11th it will be confiscated! We had hoped that the authorities might have been a little more accommodating. However, as we are certainly planning to continue our trip (Mike would want it no other way), we will be leaving Canada on November 7th for Lima, in order to give us time to get up to Cuzco and drive across to northern Chile. Our next stops would have been Puno and Arequipa, but we feel that we are not ready for them now, as that was where Mike was born and spent the first year or so of his life. Instead, we are planning to get back on schedule and spend November and December driving down through Chile. Maybe we will feel able to come back up into Bolivia and Peru sometime next year from Argentina.

The process of dealing with our deep grief over the loss of Mike, continues to be a journey of a different kind. Maybe our feelings can best be expressed in terms of colours inside our minds ..... bottomless black, raging ragged red, and now more of a numbing, swirling grey. We suppose that one day our lives will resume some semblance of normalcy, but for the moment we are very dependent on the loving support of our wide family of friends near and far who continue to reach out and care for us. We thank you all.

Several friends have written beautiful poems expressing their feelings. One of them was from Marie Dunn, a long time friend in Saskatoon, who wrote this when she was with us in spirit at Mike's Memorial Service:

Two Flames

Two candles burn with steady flame,
Salute a much-loved son
His parents too.
All lived in lands both near and far
Hands outstretched to help and care.

Michael's brilliant flame
Outshines the shadow of his death,
Lights up the way he lived his dream,
Glows in our hearts forever.

When the brokenness of grief,
Heals slowly to a gentle peace,
Their flame's rekindled.

Michael's legacy,
To "dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings"

(The last line of Marie's poem is taken from "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee Jr, a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot writing in 1941.)
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