Like most horrific days, it started out quite ordinary. The only odd thing about it at all was that I was unnaturally organized. For some reason, I felt inclined to pack extra snacks and sinus medicine. I elected to leave my laptop at home, although I normally took it with me to write over my lunch hour. For some reason, I didn’t feel that there would be time. I thought that, perhaps, I should take my phone charger, but I dismissed that notion since my phone was fully charged. The weatherman promised some sleety/snowy mess, and I was preoccupied with making arrangements for the kids, who were enjoying yet another snow day at my mother-in-law’s house down the road. The morning had the kind of low-level stress that comes from having to make last-minute adjustments to plans.
The foul weather was still holding off when I made it to work, but something worse was brewing.
The thing about Bad Things, is that you rarely associate them with yourself. Bad Things happen to Other People. *knocks on wood* But of course this isn’t true. Bad Things happen to everyone. Car wrecks happen. Cancer happens. Heart attacks happen…and one did happen. It happened to my husband.
Bad Things happen. They happen every day. But the good news is…Good Things happen, too. And they happened that day, and the days that followed, and… It. Was. Humbling.
Since it was a snow day, my husband was not out directing traffic like he would normally have been doing. Good Thing Number One. His sergeant was attentive and noticed that something wasn’t right. Good Thing Number Two. My children were safe and sound at my in-law’s house rather than at school. Good Thing Number Three.
And the Good Things Continued…
One of my beloved twitter friends quickly emailed me an Amazon gift card so that I could download books to read to pass those long, lonely days in the hospital.
A wonderful group of Outlander fans sat virtual vigil with me and tweeted quotes from Outlander, sent well wishes, and provided countless hours of moral support. I asked for distraction during those unbearable hours, and they shared their time, their energy, and their love.
Some of my co-workers donated some of their vacation days so that I could stay with my husband during his hospitalization and transition back home. They also put together a beautiful care package with toothbrushes, toothpaste, quarters for the vending machines, tea, snacks, magazines, and even a beautiful, luxurious blanket to ward off the chill that seems to seep through hospitals.
One of my dearest friends, a fellow writer, brought me tea, a real non-Styrofoam tea mug, a shamrock plant (for luck!), and even brought me lunch because she knew I wouldn’t leave his side.
A couple of his co-workers came to see us and brought snacks and bottled water. They also brought a distraction from the monotony. They brought banter.
At some point, my phone battery was dwindling dangerously low. I posted a plea for a charger within the hour a neighbor had driven through the foul weather to bring it to me.
At night, I listened to the machines beep and bing, trying not to panic as alarms went off and nurses came scrambling.
My husband joked that he had the heart attack and I got the gifts but, really, he was amazed, too, at the unimaginable outpouring of love and generosity.
I faltered between feeling happy-weepy and sad-weepy. Apparently drama makes me a bit more profound and also slightly more sloppy-drunk sounding.
One day stretched into another…and another…and another. The initial panic gave way to an exhausted gratitude.
After a while, “normal life” things started to matter again.
Even after we got home, the well wishes continued. The inquiries and offers of support continue. I realized (once again) that it is good to ask for help. Like so many of the important things in life, it’s a lesson that I have to learn and relearn time and time again.
Fortunately, Amanda Palmer is around to remind us of this Truth…
…and Twitter is here to connect us virtual neighbors eager to help, and listen, and ease the burden.
If you want to help, you can find out more here.