Today marks another anniversary that will always stick out in my mind. It may not sound like a positive experience, but it truly was a gift that redefined my life.
Three years ago today started as a fairly normal day with house chores, going out to lunch with a friend, then preparing to go to work. Then the day took a dramatic turn….I suddenly felt complete fatigue and collapsed on the coach. As the day progressed, so did my weakness, until I couldn’t move from the couch and I was struggling to swallow and breathe. It was frightening yet not totally unfamiliar. At the age of nineteen, I had been diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder called myasthenia gravis. I had experienced bouts of weakness over the past 25 years, but this one felt the most severe. My husband was immersed in a project with a swiftly impending deadline, so I didn’t want to bother him, but I knew that I needed more help than rest on a couch could provide.
A few hours later, due to an insistent phone call from our daughter, Darren took me to the emergency room, and I was admitted to the neuro ICU and hooked up to a number of machines, especially one to help me breathe. Once I was settled there, Darren needed to go home and finish the project. I was still fully conscious, and my thoughts were beeping and whirring around in my head much like the machines that surrounded me. How had my life changed so profoundly in the course of a few hours? I’d always thought of the Intensive Care Unit as a place where people don’t often exit alive. Was the end of my time on earth near for me?
As I lay alone, I heard an electronic melody and immediately identified it as “Brahm’s Lullaby,” a song my mother had sung to me as a child. Was Mom sending me a message from heaven, calling me to join her? I later found out that the hospital PA system plays the song each time a baby is born in the maternity unit!
I reflected on my life…I had graduated both high school and college, married the love of my life, experienced motherhood with both a son and a daughter, and watched those two children graduate from both high school and college. Would this be the complete experience of my life? How would people remember me? I still had so much more I wanted to do with my life!
I received the blessing of a second chance. I stayed five days in the hospital before gaining enough strength to be released. The summer of 2014 was a limited one, spent mostly in a wheelchair at my dining room table with my Bible and a journal. I memorized the book of Philippians and found out just how much God loved me. He loved me so much that He didn’t want me living an over-stuffed, stressful life but instead one filled with purpose and love.
Three years later, I am in the best condition of my life–both physically and emotionally. Each day is a challenge to see just how many people I can make a difference with, care for, and love. I know firsthand that tomorrow is not assured, so I choose to live each day like it is the most precious gift that I could ever receive.