Three years ago today, at 6:39am, my life as I had known it came unravelled. For about 30 minutes I had watched as a dedicated team of medical professionals tried to bring my beautiful wife back from the edge of death where she teetered following a likely pulmonary embolism. But it was not to be. In truth I had a sense from the moment I walked into the room that she was already gone - still close but no longer resident in her body. In the corner of that room as I watched helplessly in the midst of those moments of chaos I stood there praying “Peace - Love - Light” over and over again. Then I finally said, “Please stop. Let her go.” And in that moment, as my world came crashing in around me, a cry (more of a howl really) rose up out of my chest.
Every moment of our living is a transition moment, but some of those moments stand out in particularly powerful ways. 6:39am Pacific Standard Time on March 7, 2010 at Providence Medical Center in Everett, Washington stands at the pinnacle of such moments in my life. In a heart beat I transitioned from being the man who had the incredible honor and privilege of being married to Veronica Lassen, to the man who had just watched his wife die. Carrie Newcomer has a song she calls “Before and After” (which I heard for the very first time about 24 hours after V’s death) in which she sings, “We live our lives from then until now, by the mercies received and the marks upon our brow. To my heart I’ll collect what the four winds will scatter, and frame my life by before and after.” March 7, 2010 at 6:39am is the moment for me which defines before and after. (click here to listen to the song on YouTube)
One of the things which I still find remarkable is that I did not die. That experience did not kill me. At the time I wasn’t entirely sure why it hadn't. When a hole opens up and sucks all the color out of the world it doesn’t seem reasonable or possible that life could or should continue. But it did. And because I was surrounded by the love and support of so many friends and family (for which I will forever be grateful) I found healing and wholeness. It did not happen quickly. It did not happen all at once. But it did happen. Light and color returned to my world. The pain gave way to gratitude. Brokenness gave way to a new kind of wholeness - a wholeness which incorporated the loss but was not defined by it. Death gave way to new life. As I stand here looking back over the last three years I can only marvel at the amazing gifts of healing which have come to me.
I will always and forever be in love with Veronica. I will always and forever be grateful for the ways she helped me to become more fully the person I am. And I will now carry her with me in my heart as I continue to step boldly and gratefully into the future which unfolds before me, one moment, one step, one breath at a time. I do not know what that future holds in store for me because it hasn’t unfolded yet. It is enough for me to know that in this moment I have life, I have love, I have partners on the journey, and I have a profound awareness of the Sacred Presence which always and forever surrounds, supports and sustains me.
Three years ago today my life came unravelled. But the thread was not lost, and today my life has been re-woven into a breathtaking garment of light. And the only possible response I can make is to breath a prayer of gratitude and be as fully present in this and every moment as I can manage. Breathe deep, my friends, for life is a precious gift.