A quick look at the date of my last post will show it has been nine months since I posted here. I realize this is a blog and I don’t have to explain where I’ve been, but I think it is important for perspective. This blog was created to be a positive force in my life, and hopefully in the lives of those who read it. The purpose was to capture and document my efforts to build a meaningful life despite chronic illness through a series of small victories. I stopped writing because those small victories became too few and too far between.
Last June, I ended up in the hospital for a week. In August, I was in another hospital for a week. I split nearly all of October between three different hospitals. This included surgery and an extended stay in a rehab hospital trying to walk again. Since October, it has been a long fight back. It is only in the last few weeks that I have been able to walk through a grocery store. It is only in the last few weeks that I have experienced enough small victories to again think about writing. So here I am, cup of tea in hand, trying to relaunch my blog and my journey.
During my recovery, I thought a lot about this blog, and what I would do once I was able to start writing again. I decided I needed to bring up some of my past. Not that I want this be a backward-looking narrative, but because the past informs the present. Who I am now, what I believe and how I respond to life have all been shaped by the events of my life. Maybe the most significant event occurred in November, 1987.
To be more specific, in November, 1987, I died. I had just come out of my second major surgery in four weeks. I was in Intensive Care. And my heart stopped. I was gone. At least from the perspective of this world, I was gone.
From my perspective, I had returned home. Not to any home I’ve ever known in this world, but to the home I knew before I was born into this life. This wasn’t an afterlife, per se, but a larger life of which the life we live here is only a part. It was the place from which we all come, and the place to which we all go when we are done here. Home in a way no place in this life could every be. A feeling of homecoming an order of magnitude stronger than I had imagined possible.
As I walked around, I ran into many people I knew immediately, friends and acquaintances. These were not faces I knew from my life here, but people who I had known before this life. In each case, we would engage in the kind of conversation you would expect of old friends meeting on the street after a long absence. One thing though, in almost every case, they would ask me, “Are you going to stay this time.” I would reply, “I don’t know. I haven’t decided.” They would say, “You know you are always welcome here.”
The day was spent in this fashion, walking around renewing acquaintances and reacquainting myself with the area. That evening was a communal meal served outdoors with plenty of food and conversation. After the meal, we had a rousing game of Beluga Ball. Beluga Ball can best described as volleyball, except it is played in a huge cave, there are roughly 30 people on a side, the ball is 20 feet across and there is no net. It quickly devolves into a lot of running into people, falling down and laughing. Great fun. The end of the evening was spent around a large bonfire.
The next day, I was standing by the gate. Next to the gate is a large sculpture. The base of the sculpture is a large, smooth, stone slab. On the slab are statues of four idealized, almost abstract, women. They are statues as one might expect, except they move, and they sing. Their song is pure sound, four-part harmony. No words. Their voices turn to light and illuminate a spot on the base which shows the time. Amazingly beautiful.
As I stood there, I was approached by a woman of some authority. She asked, “Have you decided to go back?” I said, “Yes. There are still things I need to accomplish.” She said “You know you will always be welcome here when you are ready.” So, I came back.
I awoke in a hospital bed. I thought at first I had just had a very vivid dream. Then I was told my heart had stopped after surgery and they had to restart it. It took a while for me to understand what had happened to me, but it became clear. Dreams fade quickly. Memories don’t.
Since that time, I have had lot of time to think about what happened to me, and what it means in a larger sense. When you are lying in a hospital bed, late at night, with just the sounds of the medical equipment for company, there is little else to do but think. I think I’ve come to understand some things, and I plan to share them on this blog in the weeks and months ahead. I also intend to include more small victories from time to time. So stay tuned.