Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.
A few weeks ago, everything I thought to be my worries and problems evaporated. A few weeks ago, my husband received test results about his heart that were deeply concerning. In an instant, his, and our lives were turned upside down.
Thoughts ran through our minds about whether he could continue his physically demanding career. Did he need to stop all physical activity immediately? Would he need heart surgery this year? Could he experience an aortic dissection? Could he die? These worries hovered over our home and psyche for weeks as we waited for his appointment with his primary care provider, his cardiologist, and then the results of his MRI.
The weekend my husband received the first blow from the test results indicating that his heart condition had worsened over the years, we left town. We packed up our dogs and drove to our favorite spot: Port Townsend. That night we ran on the boardwalk with our dogs and stared into the most beautiful sunset. We spent the night camping in the back of our truck like we have done so many times before. We woke up and our dogs bounded out of the back, excited to start the day. The next day we went around to all the shops we had frequented hundreds of times. But something felt different. It had nothing to do with the surroundings and everything to do with us. Our own perspective had shifted.
A deep understanding of the fragility of this life had left its mark.
This experience has not been easy. Not only because of the fear that gripped us but because life had to go back to normal as we waited for more answers. I did my best to stay present. Sometimes I dove deep into denial because it was there. Other times I bared witness to his pain, which meant allowing him to sob and not trying to fix this for him.
This did not mean that all of life’s simple pleasures were lost on us. Ariana Grande’s latest album dropped, and my husband could be heard singing her songs anywhere in the house. On the day that he went to his MRI appointment, the tech asked what type of music he wanted to listen to. Since he was going to be pushed through a tube not much bigger than his body for 45 minutes, he might as well listen to his girl Ariana. He put on his headphones and suddenly her hit, “Thank U, Next” came through and he broke down. He describes that moment like this:
“well…I had been listening to that album for the last month very heavily while I had been dealing with everything. It brought me a lot of peace in those moments when I could listen to her sing and not feel the deep fear I had been experiencing. So, when it started playing it was just beautiful. At that moment I was suspended in this MRI, contemplating everything. Then Thank U, Next came on and I just felt like no matter what – I would be ok.”
There will be so many other times that life hands us a dose of uncertainty and reminds us we have little control over this human experience. So, what can we take from this? How can we live better, wiser, and more fully? I’ll let my husband answer for himself, “I just realized how important it is to appreciate every moment. It helped me to learn to be more present. So many times, this past month I’ve just had to stop and realize how blessed I am to be alive.”