Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Another Chance

I started with good intentions, but all I did was start. I opened the blog, and then life somehow got in the way. Or maybe it was death that got in the way — or it tried to. But this is not really about the blog. Sometimes, in our journey through life, by no choice of our own, we are forced to step back, to spend some time thinking, to reassess where we are, and what we stand for. Where are we really going?

In an instant, life as I knew it changed, and I was hanging, as if in some limbo thinking, I'm not ready. I got stuff to do. I'm not finished yet. It is seldom our choice as to when we leave this life. It could have very well been my turn, but a series of miracles brought me through that day.

I had a busy day planned, a list, a long list. I'd been down with a cold, and between that and work, hadn't got much done around the house — it was a mess — even by my standards. I was taking the day to get some cleaning done. I ate a quick toasted cheese for breakfast and got up to get busy. I took my vitamins, and then looked around, somewhat annoyed to realize I was still hungry and wished I had cooked a bigger breakfast. There was a packaged snack mix on the table and I didn't even stop, I grabbed a handful of that and turned to get on with my chores. 

Talk about too much of a hurry, I choked and I was suddenly hanging between life and death. My son was home; I got his attention, and he immediately performed the Heimlich. My recollection is a little blurred, but he also called 911, and the rescue team was there very shortly. In fact, by the time they got there, I thought I was okay and it was surely over. It wasn't. Within a few minutes of them leaving, I was vomiting blood. This time, I was pretty sure that meant I was pretty close to gone. Within minutes, they were back and I was in an ambulance discussing poetry with a paramedic on the way to the hospital. Although it was not that far away, that felt like the longest ride of my life and he kept talking and talking. I kept wondering, Who on this earth is so intent on poetry at a time like this? But he was doing what needed to be done. Things moved fast after we got to the hospital, then something about a surgeon, a new surgeon, does anybody know him? Oh, you ARE an organ donor aren't you? About that time, I was thinking, Wait a minute, and then I was out. 

It was a miracle on top of miracles that I survived that day. From the instant that I realized I had a problem, everybody in the process acted quickly and moved fast to do exactly what needed to be done at that point. From my son, to the rescue team, to the paramedics, the ambulance driver, the surgeon, and everybody in between, everybody in the process moved fast and did exactly what needed to be done next. They all got it right. And so I lived.

It was a fluke accident; the day had started like any other day. That day I was in a hurry, but I was always the one to eat right and exercise. So many times, I had prided myself and really did try to do things right when it came to my health. Nevertheless, before it was over, I had spent nearly a month in the hospital, and been back two more times before I could really say I was on the road to recovery. 

The one thing I learned though, as many times as we say it — about no guarantees in this life — knowing it intellectually and knowing it in the deepest part of your soul is a very different thing. It can all be over in an instant. That day, all I could think of was all the things on my list. I had work to do. I wasn't done yet. I didn't feel like I had completed my life. I wasn't finished living and I wasn't finished with my writing either. However, it was not in my hands. Nothing was in my hands.

Where I am today? It has been a long road and things are different now. I don't move nearly as fast as I used to, but I take nothing for granted. I have been blessed beyond reason, miracles on top of miracles, and a list of people, one after the other, stepped up and did what needed to be done to keep me alive that day and the days that followed. Then came the others, friends and family, and armies of angels in so many guises, the nurses, the doctors, the surgeons and techs. There were prayers, stacks of get-well wishes, and avalanches of Facebook greetings, support and love from so many friends online and off. Just when I needed it most, love washed over me from every direction. 

In some ways, I can't help thinking, Maybe it was my turn. I got another chance, but there are no guarantees and in the very deepest part of my soul, I surely know that now. With the realization that I survived, I most definitely remember beloved family and friends who went before and those who have gone since, and once more I am humbled to have another day to try to get it right at this thing called life. I am blessed.