Monday, April 16, 2007.
There are some events that stick in your mind so clearly that you can remember the tiniest details surrounding them, right before they begin to fade into a blur. I can tell you that I had fish for lunch that day at a business meeting and had just returned to my home office to check email. I was looking out at my favorite tree across the alley, wondering how much longer it would be before it was covered with leaves again and at the same time thinking it was probably time to take the dog out for a walk.
Then the phone rang, and the minute I heard my dad’s voice I knew something was wrong. My younger brother Bo had suffered a major heart attack and was in the cardiac hospital 90 miles from his home. The prognosis was not good. I remember wailing from the deepest place within me, and not much else after that.
Somehow a plane ticket was booked and clothes were packed, and that evening I was on the red eye to Texas. (“Somehow” almost always means Warren, whose love really shines through in moments like these.) My parents didn’t have cell phones at the time, and it took 12 hours to get there. I didn’t know what I’d find when I arrived.
My youngest brother Jeff was at the airport to pick me up, and when he smiled at me I knew Bo was still okay. To this day, I’m not sure Jeff knows how much that smile meant to me.
When we arrived at the cardiac unit I saw a lot of sick, elderly people. How could this be the right place for my strong, healthy brother? My mom hugged me and then told me that Bo had suffered another heart attack, one doctors said would have surely killed him had he not been right in the cardiac unit.
The first sight of him made me physically step back. You see, he’s always been just one grade behind me but physically bigger since we were toddlers. Seeing the strongest person in my life stretched out on a hospital bed with tubes and wires and a sickly pallor to his skin was almost unbelievable. Every moment I had to keep reminding myself this was really happening.
Over the course of the next week, he got stronger and regained some of his energy and sense of humor. The doctors eventually told us he was out of immediate danger. After what seemed like an eternity, he was released to go home. I have never been so glad to walk away from a place as I was that hospital.
Bo’s life changed: he had to quit smoking, lose weight, and learn to manage his stress better. In addition, he began taking what will be a lifetime of prescription medications. Each year he goes back for a checkup, and I know it stresses him out until he gets the results. It stressed the rest of us out, too.
My parents’ lives changed: they began to pay more attention to their weight and our stress levels. Mom lost 60 pounds, and my dad dramatically lowered his high cholesterol.
As for us, well, you know our story. This in combination with our friend Maria’s brain hemorrhage and long recovery the following year cemented our decision to start living our “someday” dreams now.
April 16 may just be another day to you, but we hope you’ll take some time to think about the dreams you’ve put on hold and why. By now you know our mantra:
Life is short. Live your dream.
And to Bo: Happy Rebirthday. Life is much sweeter with you in it. I love you.