"I think you need to call 911."
Those words, said to me by the most important person in my life, caused my heart to skip a beat. It set off a series of events that left me thankful for all the good people in the world, relieved that our family had been spared a tragedy, and reflective about how our daily routines can be jolted, resulting in emotional rebalancing.
Emergency personnel were at our door within 2 minutes, our son pulled into the driveway soon after to transport my husband to the VA hospital (a really good one here in Chicago that he, rightfully, has faith in), and the next several hours passed unbearably slow as I waited for hourly phone updates about his condition while I cared for our 2-year old grandson, nursed my own virus symptoms that had lingered for several weeks, and tried not to dwell on the worst case scenario.
I went to bed that night - two weeks ago now - with my beloved resting comfortably beside me. His emergency had been dealt with, we were cautiously optimistic, and I was grateful that he hadn't had to be admitted. I watched his measured breathing and said a prayer asking that I be allowed to do the same for several decades to come.
It wasn't until two days later that my emotions were laid bare. I was driving on a routine errand and my thoughts turned to the drama of the last 48 hours. I was forced to pull off the road. My eyes filled with tears. I had just re-lived, for the hundredth time perhaps, what had transpired. But not until that moment had I allowed myself to face the reality that, if we hadn't been spared, I would now be faced with life alone. Without the man who has been with me since the age of 14, who has loved me, cared for me, fathered our children, been a man to admire and cherish because he chose me to spend his life with. Not a perfect man, understand, but my best friend, husband, lover and the only person I can imagine always wanting in my life. There is no scenario I can invent in my head that would be better without him. He is my life support. I sat there and sobbed for the loss I was spared.
When you reach this stage of your life, although you still think young, act young, and try to go through life with an unending outlook, you still have moments when you contemplate the end of your life. It's an ugly fact. Dustin Hoffman said it best in an interview some years ago when he said, "When you reach this time of life, you can see the end. When you're younger, you never do." I'm sure I don't have that quote exactly right, but I have the meaning, anyway. You do see the end. And it's scary, people - and I hate it. I'm not nearly ready to think about my life being over.
I know that this event has changed me. I've been much more aware of my partner these last two weeks. I covet every moment. I say a lot of thankful prayers. And I remember my mother's words from her hospital bed, when she had just delivered to me her diagnosis of cancer, "Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere. I still have too much to do." She lived a year after she said that to me. You just can't predict what lays ahead now. I get it. And I plan to seriously live each moment to the fullest. I have more reason that ever to follow that resolve.