I’ll embrace every moment I’m given. There’s a reason I’m alive for a blink of an eye. – Mercy Me
Last Friday was a long day. Mary Beth underwent a surgical procedure for an issue she has been experiencing for quite some time. Earlier that morning, the unspoken words between us were deafening as we were preparing to leave for the hospital. Although unspoken, we both felt the anxiety nonetheless.
This day was indeed different. Our routines had been interrupted and our life felt like it had been placed on hold, if only for a little while. The surgical procedure she was about to receive is somewhat radical and general anesthesia would be used. The risks associated with both the procedure and anesthesia gave us both reasons for concern. However, either one of us acknowledged this or talked about it. By doing so, we felt, would only give it more credit; more likelihood of happening.
The conversation in the car on the way to the hospital focused on weekend plans. She reminded me of Emily’s basketball game on Saturday and a birthday party our daughter was invited to on Sunday. Mary Beth also asked me to buy tickets to the musical Wicked as soon as we returned home because she was afraid the show might sell-out quickly because it would be in Kansas City for only a few days.
We arrived on time and went through the usual admitting procedures. Afterward, we took our seats in the waiting area. The distinct smells in a hospital are always sobering. They remind me of the thin line between what we have each day and what can be taken away the next in the blink of an eye.
Soon, her name was called and my wife was escorted back to be prepped for surgery. I had to wait until the preparations were completed before I could see her again.
I pulled out my laptop computer with the intent of getting some work done. But with my focus and inspiration missing, I turned my attention to my Treo cell phone and fumbled through some emails. The door that separated me from Mary Beth opened and a nurse motioned me back.
My wife had changed out of her familiar pink and white sweat suit and was now wearing a blue-dotted hospital gown with a single tie in the back. A bag of saline fluid was attached to a hook above her head. The line going from the bag wrapped around her pillow and ended at a long needle stuck into her left hand. It struck me how vulnerable my wife looked in this moment.
The doctor stopped by and reviewed the procedure with both of us. He sounded confident and reminded us he had successfully completed hundreds of these operations in the past. After the doctor left, it was time for Mary Beth to be transported to the operating room. I leaned over and kissed the top of her head. I told her I would see her in the recovery room a little later. Although a little apprehensive, her eyes reflected a calm inner demeanor that told me she was OK.
The surgery went quickly. The doctor came out to speak with me and assured me Mary Beth was alright. He indicated I could go back to the recovery room and see her in about 15 minutes.
However, one hour later the nurses would still not let me go back to see my wife. They look alarmed. Something was wrong. The charge nurse finally came into the waiting area and informed me Mary Beth was experiencing a great deal of post-operative pain. The solution was to give her morphine to make her more comfortable and wait to see what happens next.
After the nurse left, I sat trying to reconcile what I was told to what I was feeling.
The routine of our lives can be comforting at times. My wife’s daily telephone calls to me just to say “hi,” the Saturdays of running errands or watching or children play in their games and our evenings of getting homework done could all be over in a blink of an eye.
What we have today may not be here tomorrow. This statement shouldn’t be taken as a reason to mourn, but rather a reason to celebrate. The here and now is what matters most. When we live in regret, or consider tomorrow as the answer to our happiness, then life can be missed.
Our lives on this earth happen in a blink of an eye, too. Considering all of the time that is behind us and the amount of time in front of us, our slice of time is meager, but very, very important. We are put here to make a difference with the time we do have.
In an odd bit of irony, we may not fully realize or appreciate what our contributions are until we are asked to take a step back and evaluate them. Then we have pristine focus on what is truly important, and what is not.
Last Friday reminded me of the most important things in life:
• Show gratitude everyday
• Appreciate the small things as much as the large
• Acknowledge your dreams that live inside of you – nurture them, give them energy and work on them every day
• If you have a partner, tell him or her how much you love them, everyday
• If you have children, do the same
• Show one act of random kindness each day
• Give yourself grace for the mistakes made in the past
• Think about how you want to live; not how you don’t want to live
• Tell the Universe, everyday, what you want – and then feel it
• Forgive those who have harmed you; forgiveness isn’t about giving a gift to the offender; it’s about giving yourself the gift of freedom and peace
• Enjoy your first cup of coffee in the morning; sing out loud when your favorite song is played on the radio; and appreciate the time you share with those closest to you
Life, our guest
Two hours after the doctor told me my wife would be fine; I was finally able to see her. The nurse took me back to where Mary Beth was resting. She was still under the influence of the pain medication, but she did recognize me.
I placed my hand on top of hers and gently bent down to kiss her. She opened her eyes and took me in for a moment before blinking several times and then finally closing her eyes to rest. The storm had passed.
The next morning while enjoying my first cup of coffee as Mary Beth continued to sleep, I looked to the east and noticed the sun. It was a gift rising in the sky.
Life, our guest, was on the way.