This has been a pensive couple of weeks for me as at this time two years ago I was hanging out in the ICU of Marquette General Hospital learning a lot about living, dying, choosing, and how important oxygen is. At this same time last year the thoughts were actually too overwhelming for me to sort through and write about, so I let the date pass by barely noted. I took it so far as to let blogging pass by altogether and only wrote 3 posts in 2012. Now I feel just that much farther away from the experience that if feels like a good time to capture some of the memories and begin to share some of my learning. Bear with me please, as this is likely to get long. I’m giving myself full permission though, as pivotal moments in one’s life should not be forced to meet our tweet-sized attention spans.
It is an incredibly frightening thing to not be able to take a breath. I have easily accessible flashback images in my mind of my body bucking, eyes wide, wrists in restraints, as I struggled to suck oxygen into pneumonia-filled lungs. “This must be what it feels like to drown”, I thought. “If I could gasp harder, maybe I could get enough.” But there was no room at the inn… no place to put a breath, even if I could manage to coax it into my crowded lungs.
And then… (more…)
Many years ago I got to see Michael Ball sing this on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Weber‘s short-lived musical ‘Aspects of Love‘. Though undeniably schmaltzy, the song stuck in my head, like any classic Broadway show tune does. Though the musical was one of the biggest flops in Broadway history, every now and then some life or love thing happens that sends me digging in my CD pile so I can give it another listen. Tonight, when this randomly got stuck in my head again, I turned to YouTube. Each version seems sappier than the one before it, yet if you listen to the words, they capture an essential truth I’ve been experiencing.
A couple of days ago I got to share stories with a favorite client from years ago. He shared his harrowing tales of a month in the ICU and I shared mine. His story was so different in many ways, and I felt grateful that my journey was so short and simple in comparison to his. He fought for his life with every fiber of his being. He was young, just getting started in his career, and full of possibilities when a skiing accident left him literally shattered. He shared that he used to dream while on the ventilator of what he could do with his life if he could just get the use of one finger and a thumb. He fantasized about the paintings he’d paint, the feats he’d accomplish, the difference he could make… if only he’d get to be a quadriplegic. And the thing he remembered most from all of it? The Love. The incredible Love that was (more…)
Bubbles burst, rain clouds burst, buds burst into bloom, tinder bursts into flame, fireworks burst across the sky, and my heart bursts wide open. Once something bursts, it transforms. The bubble won’t be put back, the cloud can’t have the raindrops shoved back in, the flower wouldn’t dream of being pushed back into bud. What about the heart? If it has truly burst wide open, can it close down or harden again? We often have moments when we think we’re ‘about to burst’, but we don’t really. We almost transform, but instead we have a lovely or powerful experience. It’s easy to go back to the old way from a ‘lovely experience’. Not so easy if we are truly burst open.
Since I awoke in the ICU I’ve been pushed to the ‘about to burst’ point over and over again. I can’t tell you how often I’ve burst into tears — sometimes from sadness, worry, or despair, but mostly because the love was more than I thought I could bear. At first, the words overwhelmed me. Comforting, yes, in many ways… but also like a tire or balloon being filled too full much of the time. The food people brought, the cards sent, the conversations shared, and the endless messages of love and support offered in countless ways — these were all part of the ‘about to burst’ phenomenon.
Launching the fundraiser has pushed me to the bursting point again and again. Oh my! It takes a certain kind of courage to ask for help so directly. I’ve needed to trust that people’s words are genuine when they (more…)
As I enter the blogosphere, one of the most motivating reasons for me to write is to begin to unravel, make sense of, and share what’s rattling around in this brain of mind since my NDE (Near Death Experience) in March. People ask me things like “What’s changed?” or “What did you learn?” or “Are you back to your old self yet?”. There was so much packed into that experience that it may take me a long time to sort it out. Heck, it was already complicated in that brain o’ mine — this just added a few dozen more knots and layers!
Today I’ve been reflecting on Mother’s Day, not pretending, and delight. Bear with me as I untangle this knot. Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I still have my mother close by, so spending time with her was essential. My teenage daughter lives with me, so spending time with her was a possibility too. She had gone away with her dad over the weekend, so I wasn’t sure if she’d be home in time to hang out with me. Though a part of me thinks days like Mother’s Day were invented by Hallmark and shouldn’t be given much merit, another part really enjoys both honoring my own mom and having my motherhood celebrated and acknowledged. It’s a strange thing. Holidays like this can bring expectations, obligation, and disappointment along with the love, joy, and appreciation so widely marketed. Sometimes in order to not encounter those first elements, I pretend the holiday doesn’t matter. Truth is, this year, months after my NDE… it really did matter to me. (more…)