I have been awfully quiet about this incident since it happened, at my mother-in-law’s bequest. I think she wanted to know everything would be okay before she let people know what was going on in our lives.
Six weeks ago, my father-in-law had a heart attack. A pretty severe one. The doctors called it a “suicide attack” or something insanely scary like that. And yes, he’s still with us. Not only still with us, but is expected to make a full recovery.
To say we are relieved is an understatement. A drastic understatement.
Here’s what happened: He and my mother-in-law went to the movies. In the middle of the climactic, pivotal scene, my father-in-law’s heart stopped. Just gave up the ghost. As we have learned since, one of his heart muscles wore out. Picture a wind sock, flitting about in the breeze. That was my father-in-law’s arteries for a few moments there.
A Good Samaritan named Kim leaped from her seat and immediately began performing CPR, while my mother-in-law powered up her phone to call 9-1-1 (yeah, she’s one of those people who actually follows the movie theater’s rules).
Kim saved my father-in-law’s life. Literally. The plethora of doctors who worked on him in the emergency room all said the same thing. “The fact that someone administered CPR so quickly is why he is still with us.”
And we don’t even know her last name.
Yep. She gave him CPR until the paramedics arrived and took over, and then she followed my mother-in-law to the hospital. She walked into the waiting room and gave all of us hugs and played down her very important role in all of this, and then she quietly left. All we know is her name is Kim and she is our family’s Guardian Angel.
We needed Kim that day, more than she will ever, ever realize. My father-in-law’s heart attack happened seven weeks after my son’s death, almost to the day. It happened as I was driving home from my day job, just like with my son. I walked in the door and my husband said, “My dad had a heart attack. Reagan (my daughter) is with the neighbors. We have to go to the hospital.”
Just like with my son.
We drove the same route. The same time of day. The same car. I was driving, both times, which is unusual when my husband and I are together. I hate driving, and I spend two hours every day commuting back and forth to my day job. Normally, I immediately hand over the keys. But in both cases, it seemed more prudent to just jump in the car and drive.
I spent that seven minute drive trying not to think anything at all. Not positive, not negative, not about my son, not about the future. During the ride to the hospital on the day my son died, I spent the entire seven minutes convincing myself he was going to be fine. I was afraid to do the same thing with my father-in-law, afraid I would jinx the situation.
When we arrived at the hospital, I am pretty sure I parked in the exact same spot in the parking structure. When we walked into the emergency room, we were greeted by the exact same security guard, who sent us to the exact same private waiting room.
It was not a good day, although, gratefully, it ended up that way.
You see, I know he has to die sometimes. Everybody does, right? It’s the circle of life, and it’s supposed to last, you know, seventy or eighty, or if we’re really lucky, ninety years or so. He’s seventy-five years old. That isn’t “too young” by any means, and he’s had his fair share of health issues over the years. Everyone dies, and when you’re in your seventies, it’s not exactly unexpected.
But I am selfishly so very glad that day was not his day. I don’t think my family could have handled it. For the last three months, we have been praised for how well we have managed to handle my son’s death, but here’s the cold, hard truth: we simply survived. We did whatever made sense based on the fact that we were still alive and we still have a ten-year-old daughter to raise and none of our lives are remotely over. I suppose there are a million other ways we could have carried ourselves, different decisions we could have made, but we didn’t spend time pondering what made sense. We have simply chosen… to live.
But I am not entirely convinced we could have been so “strong” had we lost my father-in-law so very quickly after losing my son. I am so grateful we did not have to find out.
And I’m so very grateful for our Guardian Angel, Kim. So much so, that I’ve decided to dedicate my sixth Lightbearer book to her. It’s about a selfless healer who has a hard time stepping back from her job and focusing on her own life, and the man who loves her. Seems appropriate, doesn’t it?
Tami Lund likes to write and drink wine while pondering the fact that real life sometimes reads like a book.
If you want to, check out her website. There might be a free read or two: www.tamilund.com.