Thursday, December 19, 2013

Heart Attack Reflections

Eyeballs...  Balloons...  Sharks... 

To the average person, these three words would have little, if anything, in common.  But to me, they all evoke the same feeling in my heart.  Fear.  I don't recall the exact moment any of these things started haunting my existence, but it was long before the man I married decided to make his profession one of slicing eyeballs; long before I had children who require balloons at every single birthday; and long, long before I moved to an apartment right on the beach where sharks are swimming entirely too close to me.  Facing these fears on a regular basis has not curbed their intensity... in fact, if anything the intensity has been inflated.  I now have rules about how much Brian can share about his day with me (no hand motions to describe procedures (only words), and I do not look into ANY eyes as he's talking about it).  I have rules about the presence of balloons in my house (ONLY on birthdays and NEVER in the car).  And I have rules about when I will and will not enter into the ocean.  My family and I laugh at the irrationality of these fears (mostly my family), but the laughter doesn't seem to curb their intensity either.

In addition to these silly and rather irrational fears, I have one very real and rational fear.  One that I don't laugh about (ever), sometimes cry about when I even think about it, and can actually remember the exact moment it hit my heart and latched itself there like a leech.  It was early spring.  I had just gotten engaged and heard a terrible story of a newlywed couple who, on their way on their honeymoon, got in a car accident which killed the groom.  (Why do people even share these stories?)  That was it.  A new fear had been born because I all the sudden had someone in my life that I loved in a whole new way and that I simply couldn't imagine living without.  And with each passing anniversary, each new child, each rocky path conquered, that fear of losing this man I love has only grown because now he's that person in my life that I love even more. And more. And more.

We have had a few kind notes and phone calls this past month from friends and family who are remembering the events of last Christmas.  Their messages are so appreciated and all have the same wonderful tone: thinking of you, and so happy you are all healthy together this Christmas season.  Of course, I've been reflecting about the last year because, that's what I do, and one memory keeps working its way to the front of my mind.  It was Christmas Eve, and the day had been so very emotional. After tucking the children into bed and leaving them in the care of Grandma and Grandpa, I drove to the hospital with a suitcase full of presents to set up in the hospital room.  (I must have looked terrible because more than one group of people stopped and asked if I was alright. No, I wanted to say.  My 32 year old husband had a severe heart attack a couple of days ago, I'm 7 months pregnant, and I have three small children at home, so... I'm scared... and I don't know what my future looks like. But of course I just smiled and nodded.  They smiled back and we shared a silent understanding.  You're here on Christmas Eve, too...)  I walked into Brian's room, so happy he'd been moved from the ICU that morning, and tried quite unsuccessfully to hide my emotional face.  I felt it so important to not worry him with my own feelings quite yet because I wanted him to focus on himself, so I explained them away by simply saying that I felt a bit overwhelmed.  I tried to set Christmas up quickly but, being the perfectionist that I am, I ended up staying too long and felt supremely guilty when Brian admitted that my preparations were stressing him out.  I left the rest 'undone', kissed him, and tearfully made my way to the door to leave him alone to rest.  As I opened the door I heard him say, "Oh, Linds," his tone was gentle and sounded as if he'd just realized something important. "I'm so sorry." I looked back at him, laying in that hospital bed and he continued, emphasizing each word, "This is your biggest fear."

I waved my hand to dismiss it, again, not wanting him to worry for me just yet.  "I'm fine, dear," I said.  Though, I most certainly was not and I'm sure my tears blew my cover.  "Get some sleep and I'll see you in the morning.  I love you."

Of course, I'm lucky that I didn't actually have to live through my biggest fear last Christmas.  But boy did I have to stare that ugly thing down face to face.  It came much too close.  Close enough to touch, to smell, to taste and, worst of all, to feel.

But, now I see that an unexpected thing has happened. 

Unlike my fears of eyeballs, balloons and sharks that intensify when faced, facing the fear of losing Brian has interestingly diminished it.  To be clear, it is still my biggest fear, and I pray every single morning that the Lord will protect him and keep him safe because that is certainly a trial I never want to live through.  But.  I'm not so afraid of it as I once was.  And it's because, through those indescribable hours where I wasn't sure he would ever be coming home with me again, I dug to the root of myself and somehow knew that I would be okay.  Call it faith or madness, but it is perhaps the most empowering feeling I've ever felt... the feeling of knowing that, even if my biggest fear happened... I would be okay. 

Maybe that's what the Lord wanted to teach me through all of this.  To have faith in myself.  To have faith in Him and to know that I could get through anything... anything... with His help.  How blessed I feel that the Lord could teach me that lesson without making me live through the real thing.

Oh gosh.  How blessed I feel in that.

 Sometimes the rest of the picture is just so great that your poo-face just has to take one for the team.

This past year has been shoved full of so many experiences and memories that, because of our humble feelings of mortality, have been absolutely cherished.  We have lived this year and I have a folder bursting full of pictures to show it.  Of course, we have struggled and cried and wrestled and woken up exhausted just as much or more than other years because, evidently that's just life, but we have also laughed and loved and played and dreamed. We've hugged more and listened more and navigated through our disagreements with more love.  Brian and I are having very different experiences this year - me living a sort of dream, and him living a sort of nightmare - and for all the friction that could cause in our lives, we've still managed to respect each others feelings, to stick together and to feel part of the same team through it all. 

He is such a good man, guys.  And I am one lucky lady.


  1. What a wonderful conclusion to come to, despite the horrible way you had to come to it. Beautifully written as always.

  2. Beautiful. I am SO SO glad that you are together and healthy and happy this year!!! (And that's not all because I just bought my plane ticket!)

  3. Have been thinking about you at this time of year and am grateful you are able to be together with your sweet husband and be an example to me!

  4. Oh I am so happy you didn't have to live through your worst fear to the whole extent. It is also mine. you always strengthen me, thank you.

  5. Linds, you made me cry. What a beautiful post, and what a writer you are! We think of you and Brian all the time. If you are possibly swinging by NC on your way to Nevada (???) we will go anywhere to see you guys and say goodbye!

  6. I've been thinking of you today and so glad that you are all healthy and enjoying this Christmas! We love you and your wonderful family! See you soon!