In an Instant


I headed out on my first solo post-hysterectomy surgery outing on a beautiful sunny day. I didn’t have anything exciting planned- just short trips to Target and the grocery store to pick up a few things…but my main goal was to simply feel the freedom of driving myself someplace after three weeks of being chaufered when I did get out. Recovery has been humbling, teaching me that I don’t know my body as well as I thought I did- or at least my new body that is sporting fewer parts. Those returning bursts of energy fool me into thinking I am clear to do even more activity…until the fatigue hits me again like a ton of bricks. It’s okay- every day is another step toward healing, and I am grateful. So many good lessons in all of this, and better days are just around the corner.

I loaded my groceries into the car and then checked my phone to find a message from one of my closest friends. Call me ASAP. My friend doesn’t send messages like that unless something serious has happened, and my stomach dropped like a ton of bricks. I called her instantly, my first words asking her if she was okay. She was, but our very dear friend- who was one of my mother’s best friends here in Birmingham- was not. He had gone in for a simple procedure to have a port inserted for his dialysis, a procedure that went smoothly with no issues. However, as his partner of thirty-two years was helping him to get dressed to go home, he suddenly became dizzy, saying he did not feel well…and then he flatlined. No pulse, no breathing, nothing…he died.

His partner jumped to action, pressing the panic button, the room became a flurry of activity, and they were able to revive him. Over the course of the next several hours they were able to stabilize him. Thank God. I raced home to throw groceries in the fridge, and then headed to the hospital to sit with my friend and hold his hand as he waited to see if his partner would live. I can’t even imagine how he felt as the minutes and then hours ticked by. Dan came from work to sit with us, and a couple of other friends came in support as well. These two men are like brothers to me, two of the sweetest and most generous people that I know, always doing things to help others. I can never repay them for their friendship with my mother; they made her laugh, cooked for her, watched her favorite television shows with her. They were truly like sons to her, and she loved them dearly. On my drive to the hospital, though it sounds sacrilegious, I prayed to my mother to help, to be there for her friends, to be their angel in this time of need. It must have helped- my friend went home today, and I look forward to visiting with him as soon as he’s ready for company. I will never doubt my mother’s angel powers, and I must confess that I call on her often for help. Heavy D always had mad skills.

Mom (aka ‘Heavy D’) with her beloved Wayne and John (‘John Wayne’) on her last Christmas with us.

This experience with my friends reminded me yet again how life can change in an instant. We go along thinking we have everything planned out, everything under control, but we don’t.  We can’t. Life is going to happen, and we have to be strong enough, flexible enough, wise enough, and loving enough to flow with it in all of its twists and turns. I don’t think we can ever truly be prepared for things like the  death of someone dear to us- with or without the knowledge that it is coming. Up until just hours before my mother died, I still believed that she would turn the corner as she always had before and stay with us. Maybe we humans are wired to always hope for the best, to shy away from that pain of loss that is worse than any pain imaginable. Not such a bad thing. As for me, I’ve always been the Mary Sunshine gal, always wanting to see the best in people, believe that the best will happen, that good will win in the end. It doesn’t always turn out that way, of course, but I hope and pray I never quit believing that it will.

When I got home from the hospital that night, I was emotionally and physically spent, but so incredibly grateful that my friend would live to see another day. I held Dan close and told him how much I loved him. I snuggled with my dogs and told them they were loved, and walked around our home, feeling the love and the peace that exudes from every pour of this funky old house. No matter what happens in that instant when everything changes in my life, I never want to let go of the gratitude for the love I have been so fortunate to know. And I know from experience that love is something that can never be taken from us, no matter what. It resides in our hearts, and our hearts simply expand to hold more and more of it as the years pass. Such a beautiful, magical gift.

5 thoughts on “In an Instant

  1. This is beautifully written! And so true. I had my own “watershed” moment 2 weeks ago: I had gone in for a CT scan and had a terrible reaction to the contrast. Terrible, as in landed in the ER for 6 hours. Was an awful experience; I could have died, as the ER staff pointed out to me…Big changes coming here, and as you say, life changes in an instant; we should all do well to make it a good one.

    Your mom was very lucky to have these lovely souls in here life.

    1. I am so sorry that you went through that- how awful! I am glad that you are okay- and that you are turning a scary experience into a positive new direction. ❤️

  2. So beautifully, and thoughtfully, written, Denise.
    Thankful, for your sharing, and the recovery of your dear friend.

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