I wildly, and frantically, rushed to find him immediately after I was told he was missing from work and no one had seen him. I had called my sister and sent her out to make sure he had not been in an accident on his way home. She found his car in its usual spot at the hospital, where he was last known to be. I pulled up to his car and parked next to it. Something did not feel right; in fact, my body was reeling. My stomach was in knots. I sat there praying and telling myself he was going to be the next person to walk out of the doors. I kept my eyes glued to those doors and hit redial on my phone, over and over. I hoped he would finally pick up and have a good explanation for his absence. Each time, the same thing… voicemail. I sent several texts that started out as: “Are you OK?”- they quickly escalated to – “I’M WORRIED! CALL ME AS SOON AS YOU GET THIS!!”
FINALLY! My phone rang, but… it wasn’t him. It was a co-worker of his. They told me that someone had found him… OH! THANK GOD!… he was in the emergency room of the hospital I was waiting outside of. I jumped out of my car and ran inside. At the ER counter, it was corrected that he was not there, but in ICU. They told me that, once I got to the secured floor, I only needed to buzz the desk from the hall and tell them who I was, then I would be taken to him. Instead, after giving them my identity, the locked doors opened and three people swarmed me. They shuffled me into a room off to the side of the waiting area and closed the door. They explained that he hadn’t looked well earlier in the day. When confronted and asked if he needed help, he refused and said he felt that he just needed to rest. They continued with their details of the day and of how he had gone missing for awhile… until one of his co-workers had gone into the windowless room that his company used for supplies, and found him…
They found him slumped over some boxes… as the words spilled from their lips, my brain imagined the next words to be something like: He has had X, Y and Z happen and now he is in critical condition… Then, I heard: “He had died. We tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late. He had been gone too long.” I was dumbfounded to, what I believe to be, my fullest extent… Traumatized, I sat there… quiet and pensively disturbed for an uncertain amount of time… it seemed like an eternity. Finally, one of the people in the room spoke up, jarring me from my confused state, and asked if there was anyone I could call. I began dialing the numbers of those closest to us, and told them the news I had received. As our shaken family members began to arrive, the informants took us back to see his body. When we finally reached him, I clung to him and silently begged him to come back. Please don’t let this be happening. You’ve come so far. You’re too young. Come back! Please, come back! I clutched his hand and felt it move with each bit of pressure I applied. The entire time I was allowed to be with him, I continued to put pressure to his hand so I could feel as if there was some life left; like death had not actually STRANDED his body there in that hospital.
The events of that one terrible day are recalled so vividly that my heart still surges with anxiety, my brain still clouds, and I intensely live through it all again as I replay through what actually happened. I’d like to ask: As you read my story, did you experience some discomfort? Were you saddened when you imagined going through something like that with someone you love? Did you remember your own story of how you found out a loved one died? Did it make your heart pound or create anxiety? Did you tear up and lose track of your breath? I hope you answered yes to at least one of those questions, because I would like for you to use that experience and/or emotion to really read and relate to what I am going to say next.
“This, too, shall pass.” That one dreadful day, of the many days that have encompassed my life so far, passed. So many good things have happened since then, along with some really bad. Every day a little different; a roller coaster ride of experiences, emotions, accomplishments and failures. Each moment gifting me with wisdom, strength and more love than I could have ever imagined. That terrible moment passed, and those affected have made our best attempt to adjust to what that moment meant in our lives. Just like many people have, you are going to experience terrible moments. You will experience great moments too. Guess what?! They will pass! Each moment passing just as quickly as the last… this life is incredibly short. I remember laying in bed with my fiance; we would daydream and talk about how exciting our future together seemed to be. Soon we would both have Master’s degrees, and the options for our careers seemed limitless. We’d fantasize about our destination wedding in Ireland and talk about the silly children we would have… IF they were anything like us! In moments like that, I would place my head on his chest, and I would say to myself: “This, too, shall pass.” I still use this phrase REGULARLY (Daily, maybe even hourly sometimes, haha!.. it’s safe to say, I use it as needed) in difficult times, but most importantly, in good times too. I do this to be present and remain humbled to life.
Right now will be gone just as quickly as it came; a lot of times we use the phrase, “This, too, shall pass”, in moments where we need encouragement to get through a tough time. Instead of only using the phrase as a source of encouragement, try applying it in moments of happiness as well. This simple act allowed me to feel the air my fiance was breathing raise and lower his chest. I heard his heartbeat. I felt the life in him and experienced him LIVING. If I have had the privilege of meeting you, I have done the same in our interactions; I have taken something positive from, and internalized, our time together. Thank you, I am grateful for you and the time we have shared. Please know that, no matter what you are going through in this moment, it will pass. If you are experiencing something great, use this time to truly appreciate what you have. Internalize the love and joy you are feeling this very moment. If you are experiencing something not-so-great, maybe even something terrible, know that these low moments will lead to future great moments. There are so many good things to experience that have yet to come. The low moment you may be experiencing will help you to better appreciate the good once it arrives. Either way, say it with me… “This, too, shall pass.”