Yesterday morning I attended the funeral of a friend’s husband. Earlier this week he was killed instantly when another driver struck his car head-on. He and my friend had been married eight months. They could both flash smiles that would ignite a room. He was only 23 years old.
Three weeks ago, while at work, I got a phone call telling me my dad had suffered a heart attack. For a man who bikes thirty plus miles a day and never misses a workout at the gym, I was shocked to learn that his heart could be so defiant and insistent on playing for the other side of things. For several hours I wasn't sure what the outcome would be. We waited and were told that one of his main arteries had been 99% blocked. He had not had any warning or inclination until the damn thing almost gave out on him. I was thrilled and terrified and frustrated and so thankful, all while sitting hundreds of miles away, praying, praying, praying.
Earlier this year, I underwent some minor medical tests of my own to try and figure out why I was feeling so strange. My chest was hurting and my heart was beating erratically and my head was swimming with all of the possibilities of what could be causing my body to act like it was. I got hooked up to some machines and had a few nurses do what they do and at the end of it all there wasn’t much of a conclusion. My doctor told me that it was obvious I was an internalizer (clearly) and that the stress was damaging me from the inside out. My job (ironically, working as a professional in psychology) was creating stress. My personal life was creating stress. My patterns of thinking were creating stress. And it was wreaking havoc on my health. I agreed, left her office and went home and tried to re-evaluate a few things.
And then, two months ago, I decided enough was enough. With the encouragement of a sweet friend, a therapist, and the realization that I needed to walk what I talk, I returned to the doctor and asked to be put on an anti-depressant. I was tired of feeling sad. I was tired of feeling tired. I was tired of feeling as though my truth and my joy were being painted over by varying levels of emotion over and over again. So, I asked for help. And this time, it came in the form of a small blue pill that I take every night before I go to sleep. It’s been enormously helpful and in an effort to keep any negative stigmas in check about these kinds of things, I want to commit to an open and honest dialogue about choosing to take that tiny pill every day.* Because sometimes the best medicine really is medicine.
All of this is to say: time really is a beast of a thing, and never is this more evident than when you attend a funeral or wait by the phone for news that could rearrange you from the inside out or lie on your side while a machine scans the whole of your body. I think of my friend who lost her husband, or my dad, or the many others who have experienced first-hand the reality of how finite this life can be. I know I will always be the kind of soul who thinks heavily and deeply about all kinds of realities, but I am so grateful for levity- for hope. While I can't deny that my days are numbered and patterned and beyond my control, I'd like to be the kind of woman who commits to more moments of joy- a multitude of minutes filled with honesty and laughter and the kinds of things that make time truly beautiful.