We’re all still here—so enjoy

Thursday, July 6, 2000 began like any other Thursday. At the time, Thursday was my yoga day.
As usual, my daughter and I were at yoga class at 6:30 a.m. Then, as usual, we stopped at the grocery to pick up our Thursday bagels.
After a leisurely breakfast, I was standing by the kitchen sink when suddenly I became violently dizzy. I staggered to the living room, where my husband was reading the morning paper, and collapsed.
I heard my husband say, “Marie . . . !”
My next memory was seeing my good friend and our local police chief, Ray Claassen, standing tall and straight by my feet. The next recollection was people carrying me through the front door of our house on a gurney.
Then I remember the ambulance turning onto the interstate as it sped to the hospital where a dedicated and competent team, including our pastor’s wife, Janet Yoder, was waiting for my arrival.
And then a blank! In all, I remember about five minutes of snippets of life in the next two weeks.
That was 14 years ago. And this past Sunday was my anniversary.
As I sat in the pew, I quietly whispered to my son, “My stroke was 14 years ago today.” He hadn’t remembered.
July 6 is always a special day for me. I call it my second birthday. It is always a time of reflection—and Sunday was no exception.
One week in critical care, three weeks in rehab, six months of physical and speech therapy, 13 years and seven months of water aerobics, and, more recently, almost daily workouts on the NuStep in the exercise room of our local retirement village.
As I listened to Sunday’s service, which was mostly music, I thought backward and forward. Sometimes with joy and sometimes with sadness. A few times I couldn’t hold back the tears.
After church, I just had to share my story and I talked to my pew mate, Zona Galle.
Zona listened intently and seemed to understand. Then she told me that 2000 also had been a traumatic year for her as she was bitten by a rattlesnake in March of that year.
Then, with a sly smile, she said, “And I had a helicopter ride!”
After a few more seconds, she went on to say, as though it were a miracle, “But we’re both still here.”
When you think about it, it is a miracle. A miracle to which modern medicine contributed. We are both still here, functioning and living productive lives–me writing, Zona gardening.
Then I had to think about how many other people assembled there Sunday morning might have similar stories.
How about you? What is your story? When is your anniversary?
Whatever your story is, remember that 100 years ago, your life expectancy would have been 52 if you are a male and 57 if a female.
So if you are this side of 60 or this side of 80, you, too, are living on borrowed time.
But the best part is we’re all still here. Never forget. Always enjoy!

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