Happy (Heart) New Year

Happy New Year!!! Okay, so today may be Jan 4th, but for me, today is my Happy New Year. That’s because today I celebrate being alive for another year. One year ago, to the hour as I write this, actually, I suffered a Widowmaker heart attack. An so began the scariest few hours of my entire life.

Thanks to a lot of very special people, like my wife who was wise enough to convince me to let her call the ambulance (yes, I kept thinking I was having bad heartburn). Like Bryan Riordan, one of the EMTs and our landscaping provider. Like Kim Wright Kieffer, one of the ER nurses that evening, and sister to one of my friends from church. Like Dr. Sterrett, my wife’s grandfather’s cardiologist who is now my cardiologist. Bryan, Kim, and Dr. Sterrett are not a routine part of my life, but each was a friendly, known face. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that each of those people were there at each stage of my attack by God’s design.

But they weren’t the only people that helped get me through this. My best friend Winston and his son Isaish, who’s chili I blame for kicking me into the attack (if you’re reading this Winston, I’m Kidding!!!! I have never blamed you, brother!!! But that was a lot of cayenne in that first bite.) Thank you two for coming to visit while I recovered, bringing Gail Snow, and sitting to play Monopoly. Melanie and Dan Davis, my in-laws that showed up at the ER and comforted me (as much as I could be comforted while in intense chest pain) and Danielle while she watched me and wondered if I’d make it. Joel Hensley, who came and met us at the ER and prayed with me and over me for my recovery. Ross Langston and Paul Linge from Crossroads, who stopped in while I was in recovery to visit and just be with me for a time. Sam and Greg Eberhart, who dropped in to hang out for a time and see me in my wonderful recovery room. And of course, everyone that did learn of my attack and prayed for my recovery and for my family. And I certainly can’t forget Ashley Hook, our neighbor and friend who came over and stayed with Levi while I was transported to the hospital.

That night was the scariest night of my existence. Poor choices in eating, my lack of motivation to exercise, and some poor genetics are what contributed to my heart attack. I honestly just thought I was having back acid reflux or heartburn the entire trip to the hospital. It wasn’t until the ER doc actually used the word heart attack that it all hit home. I could have left Danielle a widow and Levi without a father. That thought alone crushed me, but at the same time, as soon as I got out of surgery, is the same thought that gave me reason to live.

I spent 3 days a week the next three months in cardiac rehab, rebuilding my heart strength and learning about healthier heart habits. That being said, it’s time to confess that I haven’t kept up with the routine exercise part of my life. My work schedule has changed, and now I have even less time in the morning and evening to get some exercise in. But as I celebrate my recent year of borrowed…no, God-gifted…time, I am strongly reminded of why it’s been such a special and blessed year. I’ve had 365 days to come home each day from work and spend time with a boy that just wants to play with his daddy. Three hundred and sixty five days and nights of being able to look at my wife and remember why she is so special to me. A whole year’s worth of chances to spend time with the two people in my life that are the reason for my life. The days haven’t been all great, and they haven’t been all bad. We’ve had our ups and downs, our struggles and joys, but I remember each day that I am blessed to continue to have each and every one of those days. While I don’t do new years resolutions, I will say that todays reminder is encouraging me to re-commit to better physical exercise habits. Because I want a lot more Happy Heart New Year’s with this wonderful family that I have. And in case you are curious, yes, I mean family as in ALL my family. My Sister and her family, my brother, my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and all of them by blood. But all of my family by bonds as strong as blood. If I’ve ever called you brother or sister (or mom or dad) in past conversation, know that I mean that with highest accolades to you. It means to me, you truly are my family. As Mandalorians say, family is more than blood.

As I wrap up this particular random thought, here’s my hope for you dear reader. I hope that you will always remember to leave your house (or watch a loved one leave the house) and say a prayer for them. Ask for a blessing on them for their day, for their safety while out and that you are reunited at the end of the day. I hope and pray that you will never part ways angry and with harsh words between you and them. That you’ll treasure each moment of reuniting at the end of a day.