Dear Laura Wade,
My body is telling me that I am coming up on the 5th anniversary of my cardiac arrest. I finally recognize the signs and know there is still deep work and grieving to be done. My body is a gift and a signpost for trails I still need to meander.
My insides feel like jello, tears are always close to the surface as well as irritation. I begin to feel more cautious and tentative in speaking and living. Both my body and my mind become fuzzy and scrambled. Not quite sure what to do with it all but pay attention and recognize my body also has a story that I need to listen to.
Each year Wes and I have celebrated February 15 as my birthday. One year we made a collage, another year, dinner and conversation, etc. Sometimes I’ll write a note to someone whose presence at that time meant the world to me. This year, we’ve invited friends to dinner who were with us for a large portion of the time during that season. My body needs people to help me remember and to continue the grieving and celebrating. It’s hard for me to ask but necessary. If you were here, we would enjoy a glass of wine, a feast of a meal, and shared stories. I would ask that of you and so would Wes. I know you would hold my tears and continued body work well and I, yours.
Wes needs the words as well. I think he was more traumatized by what happened than I was. Because he is a physician, he knew what Cardiac Arrest implied...guaranteed death or a vegetable existence if one does survives. And he wasn’t with me. I was in Chicago at a Trauma Conference (I know, ironic!) when he got the call from Dan. Then the long wait, the not knowing, the helplessness. He still panics if I don’t answer my phone or am not home when he arrives.
So, really, this is our story! There are certain moments in life that provide tectonic plate-like shifts and this was one of them. It has changed both Wes and I in the deep places and definitely given us an appreciation and gratitude for our marriage. We’ve allowed the word “Fuck” to be a holy word (maybe I'll explain that later!), we decided to climb Machu Picchu while I can, I’ve begun to enjoy how much I am loved and love. I’m willing to take more chances and do the scary thing.
Five years ago, as I knelt beside my brother in Christ with the group, I laid my hand on him and said, “Come Lord Jesus” and my heart gave out. Now, I am pretty sure Satan was trying to take me out. But God is not done with me, yet! As the years roll by and I learn more about what actually was going on in my body on the floor of the group room. I know everything in me took a huge hit and the physical trauma to my organs and brain was significant. I had a brain scan done when I returned home and the doctor’s face could not hide what I already knew to be true...My left brain, the organizational side, took a huge hit. No wonder my body speaks on the anniversary every year! Climbing over the 15,500ft pass in Peru this summer, my heart reminded me that it is doing the best job it can, but that it is a wounded warrior that I need to be kind to. I need to slow down AND enjoy as much as I can for now.
I know people who talk about near-death-experiences say it marks them and changes the trajectory of their lives. Now I understand. I think this year, I’ll write a poem about the story because that’s how it comes to me...in pieces, phrases, and feelings. And since God left me so much right brain to work with, poetry makes a lot more sense to me. Yet another gift!
Love to you,