There were a couple of things that I knew would occur over the next few weeks. One, I’d be greeting good friends about every other day as they delivered meals to us. Some would want to visit and see how I was doing and ask a few questions. Others would want to make a quick stop, drop off food, but wouldn’t have time to visit. As one who has been told he has the “gift of gab” and finds it difficult to give short answers without appropriate context, I could expect to be frustrated by the brief encounters.
And the longer visits would be deeply satisfying while helping me to release some of the emotional baggage I was carrying.
Good baggage, but baggage that needed to be unpacked and put in its proper place and perspective. Tears would show my fear, pain, anxiety and joy. Amazing what shedding a few tears can accomplish.
Secondly, I knew that “I had a heart attack a couple of weeks ago or a couple of months ago,” would be a part of my conversation with most everyone for a while. And with those who knew of my surprise heart event I would be explaining symptoms and warning signs that I had experienced before and during the attack.
Again, I felt a combination of anxiety and welcome as I anticipated future encounters. I would learn later that one thing I had not anticipated was a conversation where my fellow traveler would share about someone close to them who didn’t make it to the hospital in time or doctors weren’t able to save them. And, thus, the blocked artery had killed somebody closed to them.
These encounters hit me hard with a combination of sadness and wonder. Sadness was for my friend’s loss and wonder at God’s tender mercy for saving my life. I would ask myself what my life now meant. Was I suppose to make dramatic changes? Had God saved me for some enduring quest? Was he planning to re-direct my path into a new world? Or did it mean, simply, and profoundly, that my time on earth was not done. And the God of Wholeness had more rough edges to shave off before I was ready for heaven.
What does it mean that I am still alive? It is a question that would be my constant companion for months to come.