when i was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, my wife took me aside and asked me if there was anything that – should i eventually become physically incapacitated – i wanted to do before it became, at the very least, difficult if not impossible. was there any place i wanted to go, anything i wanted to see or do. for some rather complicated reasons which i won’t go into, i have always wanted to go back to switzerland, where i spent a small but deeply important part of my childhood. naturally, that is what came immediately to mind. i also want to see the grand canyon, and machu pichu, but switzerland holds a very special place in my heart.

but as i began looking into such a trip in practical terms, inviting my sisters to come with me so that the three of us could revisit the same places together, as i began looking at plane fares and train fares and hotels, and began thinking about the daily cost of such an excursion, it began to become clear that it simply was not something we could manage at the time. we were about to send our son to university, with his sister to follow close on his heels, and it didn’t seem practical. i, of course, didn’t believe i would ever become incapacitated to the degree that a trip like this, even taken on my own, ould be difficult. at the time, i was fine, and putting the trip off until our current responsibilities were behind us seemed like a sensible and smart thing to do.

while i have never for  an instant regretted or second guessed the choice i made, as it has turned out i have become increasingly physically incapacitated. i can still get around just fine, and we have made several vacation trips on a smaller scale that were quite handily managed. and i am still committed to my trip to switzerland, a few years later than i originally wanted, and it might not be as easy as it would have been five or so years ago, but i still plan to go, one way or another. certain accommodations will have to be made that i wouldn’t have had to think about back then. but people with far less physical capacity than me have accomplished far more challenging things. so i know it could be done.

i guess i write this to you, dear reader, as much to myself. there may come a time – although it is by no means certain – when situations and circumstances might  conspire to put hurdles in your path. i still plan to visit switzerland – one way or another. and i hope if you have similar plans and dreams, that you do not allow ms, however it affects you, to keep you from them. it has been said that “if only” are the two saddest words in the world, and i, for one, do not plan to leave them as an epitaph.

i’ll send you a postcard.


Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

One thought on “regret”

  1. Wow! Such great words of wisdom. Thanks for posting that. At the age of 34 and almost 10 years into my MS, I just got accepted into nursing school. A dream I had put off and was too scared to fail at with my disease unknown. All though I hope I’m not too late, I certainly won’t have any regrets at trying today.

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