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.