Say “Yes” to Life

Here it comes again—July 8.

It was a Friday in 2011, which started out as a typical day. My friend Jim dropped me off at the airport that morning; I was going to Michigan for my niece’s high-school graduation party.

Jim was supposed to pick up the dog at noon and take her to his house for the weekend; he always called to let me know when they had arrived.

I landed in Detroit around 1:15 p.m., and there was no message from Jim. I called all of his phones; no answer anywhere. I knew something was wrong.

It took me a few hours to find him. He had had a seizure in his office and had fallen to the floor, unconscious.

When he arrived at the hospital, a scan checking for a concussion revealed brain cancer. Brain cancer? Unimaginable. Jim was the epitome of health. He exercised regularly and ate a healthy diet.

Now he had brain cancer, and a very, very aggressive, non-curable brain cancer.

I caught the next flight back to Philadelphia and went straight to the hospital.

I remember feeling as though I was trudging through thick mud, or maybe quicksand those first few days. Moving forward slowly, and sinking at the same time. “Nothing will ever be the same,” I remember repeating to myself. Nothing has been.

Those days were a blur of meetings with the surgeon, watching Jim being monitored, making decisions, calling Jim’s friends to tell them what had happened.

Soon, though, I was able to hear God’s voice reminding me that Jim was in God’s hands, as was I. That reminder made a huge difference. I started to shift from fear to trust and even gratitude.

I was grateful that Jim had not had the seizure while he was driving and that I found him while he was still alive and that my sisters had dropped what they were doing to be with me during those hours I waited for a return flight and that the hospital was nearby and that the on-duty neurosurgeon was excellent and on and on. As my fears receded, my gratitude grew.

Lots of little things made a big difference. I started to let go of what got in the way of my gratitude; I focused on Jim and his care.

Others who have experienced the death of someone close to them have told me the death date is significant for them, a day they never forget. I remember the date of Jim’s death, April 3, 2012, but the other “D Day,” the diagnosis day, is much more difficult for me to get through.

July 8 is the day I learned just how fragile life really is and how quickly things can change. Here it comes again, July 8, reminding me to say “yes” to life.


6 thoughts on “Say “Yes” to Life

  1. Patrick

    We are so vulnerable it seems! So protected by the good, so vulnerable…so protected, so ultimately safe…so vulnerable! Thanks Madeline for pointing out the tensions we live in!!!

  2. Jean Mulcahy

    This is so true…I find the day my husband became seriously ill, and the day my father collapsed, are as difficult as their anniversaries of death (2 1/2 and 3 1/2 months later, respectively). This year, I’ll try to remember to “Say ‘Yes’ to Life” on those difficult days. Thanks.


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