FIRE doesn’t matter if you don’t have your health. FIRE doesn’t matter if you can’t be there for your loved ones.
I started this blog partially because it sounded fun, partially because it had potential to make money (ha!). Now I use this blog more as a way to focus my own thoughts and feelings. And when you have ADHD, sometimes you have a lot more feelings than you care to admit.
In December a close family member died, in their 30s, and I still cannot believe it. They had a number of health issues, but none that my family thought could end their life, at least not in their 30s. We were wrong. I spent three months away from home, with family, helping out as I could, including going through their computer and helping their surviving spouse with childcare and organizing finances.
This family member was also pursuing a financially independent, retired early (FIRE) life, and had a multi-page document outlining financials, including draw-down strategies and side-income streams. I may be the personal finance blogger, but their detailed planning put me to shame.
They were actually considering retiring in the next year or so, and had a long list of things they wanted to focus on when they did, from fitness to nerdy tech projects. Reading through the list makes me imagine a dozen different alternate realities where they’re still alive, and thriving.
There are phases anyone goes through with pursuing something like financial independence, including one I like to call the extreme bargaining phase, where you cut as many corners as possible, even delaying medical care. I keep thinking about if they would have gotten the help they needed earlier if they weren’t worried about the cost, and if that would have made any difference.
I talked with them, in October, prior to them making an appointment that was absolutely the right decision health-wise and also absolutely not covered by their insurance. And I know they grumbled and complained afterwards, and that they were very anxious to receive all the bills.
In the end, I know these what-ifs don’t matter, and I can’t change the past, regardless of how unfair the present feels, and me trying to put blame somewhere is just my body’s way of handling my bundle of raw emotions.
But I also think of the ways I cut corners when it comes to my own health. Stopping a fancy gym subscription I really hecking used because it seemed too extravagant and I could go to a cheaper one down the street (then never signing up for that gym because it was more expensive than I thought), not going to urgent care for an earache that then made me go to the emergency room later anyway, or not going straight to the emergency room to get checked out after being hit by a car (yes, this really happened).
You can’t change the past, but you sure as hell can change the future. Don’t be me. Be there for your loved ones and take care of yourself.