Early morning, Sunday, September 13, I was stricken – suddenly incapacitated, unable to stand, sweating profusely, my breathing labored and shallow, my consciousness rapidly waning. A terrifying moment. Less for me as I was barely (really, not at all) alert. More, I believe, for Pontheolla who swiftly came to my aid, calling 911, and staying with me from the trip to the ER and throughout the 4-day hospital stay.
After a battery of tests – including an echocardiogram (at the end, the sonographer saying, “You’ll be pleased to know you have a heart and it’s in the right place!” to which I quipped, “I bet you say that to all your patients!”), an examination of my carotid arteries, and a proposed cranial CT scan (to rule out the occurrence of a heart attack or a stroke) – the findings, as far as this medical layperson can discern, is that I experienced the proverbial “perfect storm”; the confluence, the collision of several factors erupting into a health crisis.
Today, continuing to reflect on a revelation that, like a beacon of light, came to me amidst the shadows of my unconscious infirmity, my gratitude deepens.
The revelation? Whether I lived or died, I knew that I was loved. By Pontheolla and our daughter Kristin, and by others. Many others. Loved with an unconditional benevolence I cannot earn and I do not deserve. Loved because and in spite of who I am. Loved in a way so profoundly beatific (though, yes, in this earthly realm, affected by our always limited human capacities) that it mirrors the God who is Love.
As a student of scripture and a Christian, I believe in this love. Many are the moments this love has been made known to me from others and, I daresay, I have shown to others. Still, I am certain that heretofore I did not awaken each morning, rise from rest, walk through the day, and lay down again at eventide with a breath-by-breath awareness of being enveloped by love. I do now.