When life gives you lemons, squeeze out the lesson.
How I discovered that life is not just short, it’s fragile.
Life is short.
You’ve heard that before, right? It’s sort of the go-to phrase that taps us on the shoulder and reminds us to live each day to the fullest. I use it all the time. But I’m not sure I truly understood what it meant until life didn’t just tap but smacked me with a massive reminder.
A few months ago I was running a girls group when I quickly glanced at my phone and saw three missed calls and a “call me it’s important” text from my older brother. My mom was on the way to the hospital with chest pain – with a history of high blood pressure the panic began. I quickly drove an hour to meet her and my brother at the hospital she had been taken to. She was diagnosed with an infected lymph node and given an antibiotic with instructions to return the next day for an ultrasound. My brother left to go pick it up while I waited with my mom and in that short time an angel nurse decided that she didn’t feel right sending her home. She remembered that my mom had mentioned pain in her arm that was progressively getting worse. She listened. She cared. She pushed.
From there it’s a blur – no pulse in her arm, an ultrasound that revealed a blood clot in her neck and arm (the one the nurse caught), CT scan that revealed a ruptured aorta, call for an air ambulance, incredible care, calm faces disguising obvious crisis, more waiting, an hour long ambulance ride by land because there was no air ambulance available, the most terrifying conversation with her surgeon as he explained how high risk the open heart surgery he was about to perform would be, panic, 50/50 chance, hugging and kissing our mom not knowing if it would be the last time, 10 hours of waiting with no update, moments of calm knowing that she was pulling through, moments of pure terror intuitively feeling like she was slipping away, calling down for updates and getting the runaround. There are literally no words to describe how life changing those 10 hours were.
Her surgeon finally appeared and all I remember are the words “We’re not out of the woods but…” The rest didn’t matter. She was alive. We had another chance.
So I guess the point of sharing my story is to express how deeply I now understand that life is not only short, it’s fragile. I will forever love a little deeper, put my phone down and connect a little longer, cherish every conversation and moment I have not only with my mom but with ever person I encounter. I love my mom and my family now with all my walls down. In the vulnerability of those 10 hours and these past few months we came together when we could have crumbled. I am so proud.
It’s the things that blindside you on a random Wednesday afternoon that will knock you off your feet and imprint your heart & soul with the reminder that we’re not promised tomorrow.
Stephanie Mulhall is a Certified Youth + Parent Coach & founder of With Kindness Coaching. She has worked closely with youth for over five years and has a passion for working with individuals to discover their greatest strengths and deepest dreams through the practice of self-love and inner-Kindness.