Today is “that” day. The anniversary of Lizzie’s death in 2000, the anniversary of my brush with death 2005. Yesterday was my brother Johnny’s birthday – and the feast of the archangels.
I stop and remember my sister who was the dearest, funniest, most special person. I hope everyone gets to experience this kind of relationship, one based on mutual love and respect. We saw the world through the same window. She always wanted the best for me, and I for her. Her friends were crazy about her. You had to love Lizzie.
As for the stroke, that accident that collided with medical ineptitude and nearly cost me my life, well, it didn’t keep me down.
When I got home from the hospital in 2005, I had to build up my strength. I was so weak and could only walk about 15 feet before being exhausted. While in the hospital I asked a nurse what the best way was to regain strength. He said, “Beer.” Ok, I started drinking beer.
When I got home I asked for the mini trampoline to be brought upstairs and I bounced on it for 3 minutes a day. I walked farther and farther every day, and made it down the block by the end of the week. I got stronger every day.
I was scared for a long time, and then Bud had to leave on a long trip to Asia, and I had to muscle up and be brave. I was OK.
Then I realized I needed a second act, so I started grad school. I took journalism at Harvard Extension (Harvard’s only journalism program).
My children started moving through college and graduating and growing up. We went through the recession.
I became fascinated with the brain (because my brain had revolted against me). I took a Positive Psych class at Harvard and that led to more education.
After graduation I started studying to be a NeuroPositive Life Coach. Now I was practicing positive psych every day. I got my license a couple of weeks ago.
Eight years have passed, and while I still miss my sister very much, I know she is with me and I know we will meet again. In my life here, I am as positive as I have ever been. The negative surprises of life do not sink me, I am resilient. I believe in the goodness of God and know that even in the hardest parts, He is there.
I look forward to so many things, writing books, travelling, seeing my children grow up, growing old with Bud. I look forward to the future and family reunions and the people who will be in my family. I enjoy every single day that I wake up, I feel a sense of surprise and joy at facing a new day. If you have ever been under sedation for 2.5 week -and were trying to get out of it and understand it- even the dreariest day is a happy day.
I routinely feel such a sense of immense gratitude for all that I have been given. I almost wish everyone could have this awareness of a second chance. Don’t be like me and wait for something bad to happen, you don’t have to…just count out three things you are grateful for, and flood your being with love for those things. A loving spouse, a sweet grandchild, a dog who is devotion personified. Gratitude is the beginning of everything else.
I remember when I was pulled out of sedation, a song came to mind. It was a song from Bernstein’s Mass, which I sang in – in Manila back in the 1970s. There was a girl with a gorgeous voice, her name was Diane. She sang, “There once were days so bright. And nights when every cricket call seemed right. And I sang Gloria, Then I sang Gratias Deo”.
I don’t know if Diane knows that hers was the voice that filled my mind as I came back from sedation. But there it was. God bless her.
We only get one chance to be in our bodies on this wonderful trip called life.
Sing Gloria, Sing Gratias Deo.