Memories from a Moment in Time
Have you ever been walking along doing your everyday life and found yourself in an unexpected situation so startling, so shocking that you could barely breathe? A moment in time that seemed to last forever……where you felt that if you took a breath, your whole world would come tumbling down? An unanticipated walk on a jagged cliff full of dangers no matter which way you turn?
In 1991, I experienced such an incident. My husband and I had been married twenty-eight years. He had been feeling bad for a while when the doctors found a mass in his abdomen on a Friday. On the following Monday, they did exploratory surgery. My unexpected moment in time came when the doctors came out of surgery and said my husband had inoperable cancer and would probably be dead by the end of the week. The tumor had twined around and was squeezing his aorta, kidneys, other vital organs, and they were quickly shutting down.
I know I must have kept breathing, but it didn’t feel like it. I looked at the doctors and listened to their words, but the shock of the moment stopped time for me. When I return to that memory, I can see the area of the surgery waiting room where we were standing, my family and friends gathered around. It seems like an indelible marker was placed in my brain at that time. Time stopped in our lives that day, never to return as we had previously known it.
As time moved forward, my husband received chemo, radiation, etc., and after five years, he was declared cancer-free. Even the Oncologist said that only God could have done that. He said, “I knew we had to have a miracle if this man was to survive”!
The memories I have from that time reshaped my life in many ways. I wish I had known then that people don’t know what to say and may say something really hurtful that sticks to you like glue! I would not have taken those words to heart. I wish I could have really heard the sweet love of the hearts around me as they offered their love to me. I wish I had known that the “out of the body” feeling I experienced was my natural body protecting me for a time…..instead of wondering what was wrong with me. As we have been learning in previous posts, I wish I had known that memories are not reliable and that I needed to write down MY experience! I learned a lot!
Thirty years after that happened, this Nana wants to share some things I learned and offer you some wisdom that could help if you find yourself in a “moment in time.”
First, your “moment in time” memory will never be just like anyone else’s moment. Your situation is unique to you, but some simple truths can help us navigate our individual moment.
Second, with the sure knowledge that….when you have your “moment in time” …..a staggering unanticipated walk on a jagged cliff full of dangers….and it leaves an indelible memory written on your life, remember that your life is not over. If your moment is recent, the first thing to do is breathe. Seems simple but isn’t. Just breathe. Take as many deep breaths as you need to let your body begin to adjust to the shock. Things will be swirling around you….feelings, bewilderment, shock, ‘why me’ questions. You have been here and heard the voices, and you will walk forward because you must.
My second piece of wisdom is to be careful with your memories. This is hard advice but can be life-giving to you. Take a moment to write down what happened. Please don’t post it online. This is for you going forward. As we have talked about before, memories are not reliable, sketchy at best. Please write!!! Try not to write other people’s advice, or comments, or judgments. This is your life, not theirs. Guard your memories. Good ones will help you heal. Bad ones can be dealt with……forgiveness can change the course of your future life.
Third, if your “moment” happened a while back, you can still redeem the time, the “fallout”….whatever that looks like for you. If you are reading this, now is your time for a change in your life. Please don’t stop reading here….you can be brave and look back into the past. Hope is in the air here!
Oh my!! I stopped writing this post for a minute to take a call from a Doctor. Another heart-stopping “moment in time” has just happened to us. I have been writing this post sitting in a hospital room with my husband thirty years after the above event I just described. He has been here six days. We are scheduled to leave for rehab in a few hours. The Doctor just called me and said the CT scan we did today shows unexpectedly that your husband has “numerous metastatic tumors in both lungs.” She said, “You will need hospice soon.” Another indelible marker….time has just stopped in our lives once again, breathe, Nana Ann….just breathe. Will finish later.
77 days later:
Postscript: An address change notification! My precious, greatly loved husband of 58 years went to Heaven on August 12, 2021, at 92 years of age. A broken heart is a price worth paying for loving and being loved by this man!!
Grace and love until our next visit! Nana Ann