The best year of my life...The worst year of my life...

Four baby warthogs taking a rest together.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Helmeted guineafowl clamoring over birdseed.
It's funny how we often get ready to say something and abruptly stop ourselves for fear of jinxing ourselves.  Such statements may include, "I haven't had a cold in years," or "I've never lost a piece of luggage on a flight."

Then, boom...just like that, you have the worst cold in your life and you lost a piece of luggage at the airport, never to be returned.  When we think about it, it's merely a coincidence.

But, in the realm of things, maybe it's not.  Perhaps it has to do with our own innate sense, however un-obvious, that we possess the ability to see what's on the horizon and possibly make such a statement as a prediction of what is yet to come.

For whatever reason, when we make these statements, we often regret saying them later, wishing we'd kept our enthusiasm to ourselves. Two months before I was diagnosed with three 100% blocked coronary arteries, I found myself espousing how the past year in Africa was the happiest year of my life.
Ms. Bushbuck and helmeted guineafowls.
And then, without warning, the whirlwind of tests, surgeries, and medical treatments began at the end of January and are yet to fully resolve.  What happened to the "happiest year of my life?"  

Is that gone now that it's tinged with this cacophony of frightening and horrific life-threatening, life-altering experiences in the past almost three months?  Are the experiences of late going to prevent me, in future conversations, from ever saying the year we spent in South Africa, specifically Marloth Park and regions, is a blur of pain, fear, and financial loss?

At this point, I'm not certain.  I recall saying this was the "happiest year of my life" no less than a dozen times in the months prior to the four surgeries.  Why did I even say this?

In part, since most of these comments were made to local residents of Marloth Park, it was done so in an effort to support the love and passion our friends feel living in this magical place.  
Big Daddy looking for pellets.
What a wonderful feeling to hear from a friend that a life choice you've made to have a residence in another part of the world is also favored by others.  In a way, it boosts their confidence that they made such a "right" decision to live in "Wonderland."

For dear friends, Louise and Danie, who are South African, who live in Marloth Park and who are also our landlords, my saying this statement gives them a sense of pride about that which they love and cherish...extolling the virtues of the good taste of others.

Nonetheless, I said it, "It was the best year of my life," living in Marloth Park from February 11, 2018, to February 2, 2019, the day Dr. Theo discovered I have coronary artery disease.  And, in essence, it was.

The wildlife, the friendships, the small town atmosphere and the simplicity of living "outside the box" in such a remote and unusual location where wild animals wander about the neighborhood, the bush and ultimately one's own garden was truly spectacular.  
Big Daddy, male bushbuck and a male duiker sharing harmoniously.
Nothing can take those memories from me; The cold winter nights when we used the outdoor heater so we could stay outside on the veranda to visit with our animal friends; the trips into Kruger that took our breath away; the sight of Little climbing the steps to find me; and now, to see Mom and Babies, who's fourth piglet, the one who sits down to eat, has finally been reunited with his family.

Adding to all of that and more, are the many evenings we spent with friends, partaking in "sundowners," fabulous dinners, great conversations and a feeling of really belonging and being a part of this unique environment.  Nothing will take that away.

And the past almost three months?  In time, it will fade into oblivion as many bad experiences do, leaving but a trace of wondering why it ever had to happen.
Certainly, it wasn't due to the fact, I'd said, "It was the happiest year of my life."

Be well.  Be happy.
Photo from one year ago today, April 13, 2018:
There's nothing as heartwarming as any animal and its young, especially baby elephants.  For more photos, please click here.


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