Friday, January 15, 2010

Nothing To Do But Think

What would you think about if you had an endless amount of time to literally do nothing but just sit there and think?

Okay, let's kick it up a notch by adding that these thoughts you come up with might be the last ones you may ever have? Well, if you are ever aware that your life is in danger, you may surprise yourself with the random, emotional, selfless, and surprising things that will fill your mind...........

There was a slight tug on my left arm and a faint voice calling to me when I slowly awoke the next morning after I was given a partial death sentence. To my surprise, I had made it through the night; A night I had sworn to stay awake through for fear that I would never wake up. I quickly reminded myself that I was still alive, but, barely. My mouth was dry, the entire right side of my weak body was immensely aching and my confused mind was searching for answers.
The faint voice I had heard was a nurse and that tugging was her effort to untangle the I.V. I had managed to wrap around my restless arm. She thoughtfully asked me, "How are you feeling and do you needed anything?" I wanted to tell her, "I feel like I have been to hell and back, I am trembling with fear inside, and I really need my family," but, I defiantly shook my head, and whispered, "No, I'm fine."
After she left, I curiously looked around the room and tried to gather my thoughts. My first reaction was, "What time is it?" They always say on those medical shows that the "first 24 hours" are the most important. I knew it was early morning and I wasn't out of the woods just yet, but, I did wake up this morning and that seemed like a good beginning.
Secondly, I was a little surprised that no one was there with me. There was a room full of family in here last night. No bedside vigil? Nobody clinging to me and begging me not to go into the light?? Come on, people! I know I matter to you and you could, at least, be here cheering me on or tearfully saying your goodbyes!
At that moment, my husband quietly peaked through the door. He seemed surprised that I was awake, and, had apparently stepped out into the hallway but had been there all night. The others had gone back to our house nearby and were taking turns attending to our children.
It was so good to see his encouraging face, even though I could see the strain caused by worry and lack of sleep he was trying to hide. My last words to him were the kind of words a spouse never wants to hear. An explosion of unwanted words caused by fear and a plead to be strong and make sure our boys knew how much I loved them. I repeatedly told him to raise them to be good people and encourage them to do wonderful things with their precious lives.
So, here we were, face to face again, and, he was still trying to reassure me that my fears weren't necessary. He reminded me it was the morning after a very long and scary night, but, I had made it. I had broken through to the other side, and, today, and everyday after that, I had to keep doing the same thing. "Agh," I thought. "That was just what I needed to hear! That loving voice of encouragement." It made this difficult task of healing a little easier.
That first day turned out to be the first of many days that I would spend in that room. I aimlessly stared at the walls, endlessly hoped to see my children, and tried to forget about the relentless pain. I eventually learned that the most comforting thing to do was to let my mind wander and where it took me became my best distraction. It was not a far stretch for a chronic daydreamer like me, but, the days I spent laying there and thinking these thoughts were not typical days either:

I pondered about my shortcomings and how differently my life could have been if I wasn't my own worst enemy.

Why didn't I stay focused and care enough about myself and my true passion for Art when I had the opportunity? I worked so hard to get accepted into that incredible Art School and I would have really enjoyed every moment of it, and, now I will never know where it could have taken me.

What ever happened to that fast bike with the sparkly blue seat and handle bar streamers I had loved so much as a child? I vividly remember disappearing on it down that uneven sidewalk in front of our old house and racing straight into a magical place without a care in the world. I miss that burst of excitement and freedom. Would I ever feel that way again?

My best friend from the past. I had an amazing one for a really long time. She was the only person I have ever completely opened up to and I am sure we knew every little and monumental thing you could possibly know about each other! Our crazy hopes, silly fears, frequent laughs, and heart wrenching tears, we shared them all and MANY times! I always knew it was a "once in a lifetime" kind of friendship that could never be duplicated. She had made a permanent impression on my heart and my mind had never let me forget the memory of her. Why is it making me re-hash it all again now? The disagreement that had torn us apart and that I held onto as an excuse for not talking to her all of these years had completely escaped me now and why did it take something like this to make me realize how much I still needed her in my life? Did she ever still think about me?

My Mom. Every child expects to lose a parent but no parent ever expects to lose a child. Even though I wasn't a little girl anymore, I was still her little girl. She turned to God to help us both through this and reached out to a priest to come and bless me, as it was not clear if I would survive through the night. It was important for her to let me know that God was there for me and I will have to remember to thank her for that. It was a comforting feeling.

My Dad. I missed him so much and there are so many things I want to tell him. Is there such a thing as afterlife? If so, I would really love to see him standing there on the other side of this world with that playful grin that always warmed my heart. I would run to him, hug him dearly and ask him to share that dance with me I had always imagined,but,we never got to have at my wedding because he left us way too early.

My husband. Wow, what a huge predicament I would have put my him in! You never get married and have children with the assumption that someday you would be doing it on your own, and, especially, so soon. We had only been married 3 years and he would have been 31 years old with a 2 year old and a newborn and a wife to bury. That just didn't seem fair. Our wedding was an absolute fairytale come true and how did we almost get to this point from there?

My boys. My sweet little boys. It had not been easy getting either of them here but I would do it all over again if I had to. Both of them mean so much to me and they are too young to realize how much their adorable faces inspire me to get stronger. I want so much to be there for them throughout their lives and I can't imagine just being an unfamiliar face in a photo if I have no say in this situation. Could I rely enough on my family to tell my sons about me often and what I was like since they wouldn't be able to remember at this age if I left them?

I thought about my sister and how different we were. We had never made the effort to put aside those differences long enough to really entertain the notion that we could have a meaningful bond from being siblings. Where did we go wrong and why was it so difficult for us to show each other affection?

My beautiful niece and how she was always like the daughter I never had and I hope she knew how important she had been in my life.

It was hard missing my nephew's first birthday and I watched the clouds form outside my window that day. The rain began and I knew it was going to interfere with the outdoor party they had planned for him.

Strangely enough, I thought about flowers....the intoxicating smell of gardenias, the unexplainable fondness I had for tulips and how pretty the Calla lilies were at my wedding. I wish I had an arrangement with all three kinds on my bedside table right now.

Food. I thought about that too. The hospital trays were good. Better than good. Why did people always complain about hospital food? The coffee was fresh, I asked for pancakes and I got them with lots of maple syrup and fruit, just the way I like them. So, if I had to die, I, at least, enjoyed my last meal.

I was surprised and touched by the frequent visitors drifting in and out of my room. Some I expected, many I didn't, and some I hadn't seen in years. They came bearing get well wishes, baskets of homemade goodies, magazines to help kill time, and, most of all, sincere expressions of real concern and encouragement.

Everyday, I awoke in that hospital bed and mentally marked off another day of victory! Then, I would allow myself, once again, to get lost in many hours of endless thoughts. Sometimes, as cruel as it may seem, life has a way of abruptly reminding you that there is no such thing as immortality. However, my life was spared this time and I chose to use my near death experience as an opportunity to explore myself and come to terms with a lot of thoughts and issues that had been bottled up inside of me.
When I finally grew strong enough to leave the hospital, the hot and humid July air had never felt so good as it swept across me when the automatic double doors opened. It was hard gazing out the window and helplessly watching the outside world go on without me and I loved being a part of it once again.
So, I re-entered the world that day and began my new life. I decided in the hospital that I would leave my temporary home with a lot of baggage that I no longer wanted or needed and, as a result, I knew I would never be the same person I was again.
I survived the unthinkable and I was determined to never forget I was given my life back for a reason. So, I embraced my new lease on life and I was truly amazed with the renewed appreciation I felt for myself and the world around me.



Image Credit: The Thinker - By Auguste Rodin (http://www.rodinmuseum.org/)

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