Ten years ago today, June 14, 2002, I stopped at a gas station on Woodside Road and picked up two packs of Marlboro Lights. I was on my way to the hospital. I knew there was something wrong, but when I was buying cigarettes, some other version of myself was doing the deal. Not the conscious one, the worried one. The one who couldn't make it through the night without waking up in a panic. Who couldn't take a walk without feeling heavy physical pain in terrifying places.
I rolled down the window on my Lexus SUV, lit one up and drove south on 280. Probably lit and smoked another one before turning off at Edgewood Road and heading down the hill to Sequoia Hospital.
I came out a week later, weak as a kitten, but with a heart that worked much better. Having been told a hard truth from the surgeon who operated on me. If you keep smoking it'll kill you in three years.
Ten years later, I'm still a non-smoker. Occasionally I'd like to have a cigarette. To forget whatever pain has surfaced. To accomodate a feeling of self-loathing that popped up. To kill whatever it is about myself that's upsetting me. But the urge passes quickly now. And my conscious self gets in the loop and soothes the pain with a little love and support. Or so I hope. Whatever I'm doing, I'm not smoking.
It's worth marking these milestones, I suppose.