Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Shock to the System

A friend had a heart attack. I learned about it from my husband. In this day in age, I respect her considerable ability to keep the news off Facebook. I monitor the stream of overshare and contribute not infrequently myself. It would be incredibly hard to not post the stream of conscious did-not-see-this-coming status update from the hospital bed before even beginning to appreciate what was happening.

Last night, almost two months after The Event, the news went public. Attempting to process all that has happened, she started writing a blog. It was the first time a number of people had heard the news. I read the shock in their posts. I imagined what it would be like to read that on Facebook for the first time, not knowing. Shock is a very appropriate reaction.

Tonight I read her blog. From beginning to now. I entered her story. The words formed a voice and I was pulled in. For a few brief moments, I was recovering from a massive heart attack. I was reconsidering my life and waiting. What does this mean? How has everything changed? I was living in a body which was no longer willing to keep up with my spirit. My spirit was looking at what it had wrought and sobbing.

On one hand, I am alive. That needs to be enough. In this time and space it has to be enough. I have to embrace life and love it with all I have. The intensity with which I've lived has taken a toll. But now, that intensity has to be turned around. Can you take care with intense tenderness? Can I relax passionately?

Mourning what I've lost, I emerge from the last post. I look into my husband's eyes as the tears fall freely now. I choke out one statement.

"I don't want it to happen to me."

On one hand this shouldn't be about me. My friend is going through something I wouldn't wish on anyone. Her life is hard enough without me sucking energy from the room. Earlier this week I read an editorial which suggested that the person experiencing a tragedy is the only one with allowance to complain freely. I am not that person.

In every word I read, the picture of a person in love with life is painted. To live a life like that, you give until it hurts. I know how that works. Somedays there is nothing left. Against any odds, you succeed. Failure is a stepping stone and you rise to every challenge it offers. But how do you rise to a challenge brought on by your own tenacity?

This is not my story. She is not me. But, in reading the beginning of her current story, I wonder what lesson the world wants me to learn right now. Do I go to the gym tomorrow morning? Do I leave off that 4th coffee in the late afternoon? Do I reconsider my workload? Do I get down on the floor and play with my kids for a little more often?

With every step, we redefine our lives. Choose your fate. What is my first step on a path that is not mine? First I remind myself - you are NOT her. Second, I send up a prayer and a wish that she makes peace with her situation and heals her heart. Thirdly, I take what she has offered me. A reminder to tuck in my tank. Be thankful for each and every day.  I can't know that it won't happen to me.