Hurricane forecasters employ a handy concept when making their predictions. It’s called the “cone of uncertainty.”

The cone of uncertainty gives some wiggle room in terms of where exactly the hurricane will hit the mainland; in our case, it’s the Florida peninsula. The first hurricane to threaten Florida this year, Hurricane Dorian, is headed our way. We’re right in the middle of the cone as of Friday afternoon (about two-thirds of the way down the state in Palm Beach County), inland about 10 miles but plenty close enough for 100 mph-plus wind and torrential rain to make a mess of things and scare the hell out of us. We’re doing what’s recommended.

We are taking the forecast seriously, joining our neighbors in securing our outdoor furniture and potted plants, stocking up on water (clean water supplies can be compromised in the aftermath of a hurricane), and protecting our perimeter with sandbags (left over from our last hurricane in 2017). We have a built-in generator so we’ll have power, and we have natural gas for cooking at any rate.

The furniture in our pretty patios has taken over the living room, and the entrancing view through our sliding door will soon be blocked by metal hurricane shutters. By the time the storm hits, we’ll be inside a dark fortress.

We just don’t know what scene will await us outside when it’s all over. I’ll let you know how this all works out. Because life DOES work out.

We have sure learned that lesson from my unexpected illness in Amsterdam. Life pushes forward. One month ago today, I stepped out of OVLG hospital, onto a flight to Florida, and into the University of Florida’s Shands Hospital. After three months in a hospital bed, I was mobile, but barely. Now, I’m logging more than a mile of walking each day, getting stronger through physical therapy, and feeling like a complete human being. I’m even dragging wicker furniture through the house.

You do the best you can in anticipating life’s dips and whirls. Before our trip across the Atlantic in April, we organized our affairs. I cleaned up the guest room. I documented our finances. We finally completed our living wills and entrusted our cremation and burial to the Neptune Society. (Ray had the cards in his pocket in the ICU: the policy extends around the globe. Very glad he didn’t have to use it.)

I thought I’d covered all contigencies, but I did not anticipate falling to the sidewalk desparately ill in Amsterdam. Had I been able to anticipate the event, however, I would have chosen Amsterdam, where medical attention was immediate and excellent: any place else on our trip (at sea, on the Azores, in Bruges) and I’d have died. Death and life were both within my personal cone of uncertainty.

We know this, but not really. Analytically we understand that things can change in a minute and that we should live each moment to its fullest, but we usually fail to embrace this reality in our day-to-day routine, even when each day is a mini travel adventure. On to the next excursion. On to the next meal.

I still don’t quite believe how close I came to not making it. The staff at the Amsterdam hospital advised that I’d understand better with distance and time. Maybe. I hope so, because then I’d be living every minute with gratitude. I’m trying.

6 thoughts on “The Cone of Uncertainty

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