Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Climb

Talking about death and dying sucks.  No one wants to talk about death in general, let alone their own - and who would want to when we're all so busy living?  Generally speaking, I think we pretty much all avoid thoughts of our own demise and busy our minds with anything and everything that keeps our thoughts from straying.
Since becoming a parent and a heart attack survivor (practically in the same breath), I'm pretty sure that not a single day has gone by where I don't think about my life and death.  As I've spoken with other survivors of disease, trauma, accidents, etc., it seems that most of us are in this boat.  We want our experience to mean something - we don't want what happened to us to be an accident or twist of fate.  We search for reason and meaning and truth in hopes that something we stumble across will explain to us all of life's mysteries. It can't possibly be that we were in a random place at a random time and something randomly awful happened to us.
I recently came across the term "felix culpa" - latin for "happy fault." Wikipedia describes this as "a series of unfortunate events that will lead to happier outcomes." Religious people come to associate the term with the Christian concept of "original sin" while the Oprah Magazine shared Martha Beck's "The Choice You Have to Make When Things Go Terribly Wrong" - this is an interesting read, if you have a minute.
I'd really like to think that I've *handled* my heart attack well (*thanks for the terminology, Olivia Pope). I was 28. Life felt normal. I was floating along, checking the boxes - grad school, marriage, baby, blah blah blah.  All wonderful things - so, so wonderful. I don't remember being scared of much - because I was busy living my life. But heart attacks really hurt.  And they're scary - because you actually feel your body struggling to survive. And then I continued to be alive, but I almost died and everything seems upside down and dark and twisty. All of a sudden, life felt delicate, fragile and easily extinguished. My whole life, up to that point, I'd never felt such a disturbing concept (and perhaps, that makes me luckier than most?) 
Living didn't stop. It just looks a little different now - the way I spend my time, the food I eat, the things that I let worry me (and especially, the things I don't).  I had to overcome my fear of public speaking to share this experience with other women. The mixed blessing is thinking about everything perhaps a little harder - but the new part of the normal has worn away and now it's just life again.
I bring all of this to the surface now for a few reasons - our choice to bring Emelia into the world wasn't undertaken lightly. There are other SCAD survivors who've made the decision we made - there are many MANY others who will not carry another child post SCAD. Some doctors advise one way while others take another route.  EVERYONE has an opinion (especially those who aren't asked.....). I can't wait to welcome this sweet girl and make Cameron a brother - but I'm still scared.  My fear didn't evaporate or hide behind a future of endless possibility. It just sort of co-exists with the excitement, hope, anxiety, delight and a bazillion other emotions that overwhelm pregnant ladies day by day.
Perhaps one could draw the conclusion that she is part of my "felix culpa" - my lovely & amazing outcome after a rather crappy health scare.  I wish I could say I wasn't scared of what's to come - but really, what parent isn't scared for themselves or their kids?  I hope for a healthy, happy baby and a boring post-partum (at least health-wise). There's not much else to do but enjoy all the moments I have and look forward.


Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb
The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking
I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most
- The Climb, Miley Cyrus (yeah, I know, but she makes a good point)