Friday, January 3, 2014

A Love Letter to the Universe

You never know when your life is going to change. The universe has it's own bizarre sense of humor, one which we may never quite understand until the the very end . . . and maybe not even then.

One year ago yesterday my life changed forever. The new year had just begun, I was on the very last leg of a two week cruise with my family and anxious to get back to the the man I'd only just started seeing but already felt like he might just be it.

And then everything changed. My family and I went up to the ship's top-floor gym for a little exercise. The sun was out, the water was clear, and somewhere off in the distance a rainbow lit the sky. I remember that rainbow very clearly, for pointing it out was one of the very last things my mom did before she collapsed.

I'd just stepped off the treadmill after a three mile run and was wiping my face off with a towel when I heard a loud sound behind me. I turned around in time to see my mother face-down at the bottom of her own treadmill - the one right next to mine - her neck bent in a terrifying direction.

I go back to that moment over and over again. All the possibilities. Have you ever seen that movie sliding doors with Gwyneth Palrow where it shows two different possible story-lines side by side, one where she made the train, caught her cheating boyfriend and went on to find a new career and new man to love, and the other where she missed the train and led a much sadder life?

As I stared at my mother - my best friend and the backbone of my family - on the ground next to me, that was the moment in which I wondered if I would make the train or if it would leave me behind forever.

So I'd like to thank god, or the universe, or whatever great power there is that I made the train. That after four minutes without breathing, four long minutes of facing a world without my mom, they were able to bring her back. And again, and again, as she coded twice more. I'd like to thank the universe for putting us on a ship with the proper medical equipment that was able to cool her body down so that she preserved as much of her memory as it did, and for the doctor on board who was able to save her life.

It's been a hard year since then. As thankful as I am for my mother's life, it's been very hard. Four minutes without air and significant memory loss is a small price to pay for one's a life, but amnesia is a painful condition to live with by any standards. So much of who we are is built from our memories. Our personality and sense of self, as it turns out, it so terribly fragile. So easy to break, and much less easy to put back together.

It's so terribly hard for her, for our family, and selfishly, for myself.

But sometimes the universe sends us exactly what we need to survive what seems like the worst the universe has to offer. Loyal and wonderful friends, who prop you up when you can't go any further. Family, who helps when it's all just too overwhelming. I hope I was what she needed over this last year, and that I did enough.

But for me, to help me cope with all I had lost - my mother's memories, and so much more - I was given the love of my life. Sent to me at the strangest of times.

Who falls in love when their whole world has collapsed? I guess I do. Because when you find someone who will stand beside you through the worst after less than a month of dating, that's a person worth spending your life with. Someone who can make you laugh on the worst of days, and understands when you simply need to weep, sometimes for hours on end.

Of the many great regrets I will accrue over the course of my lifetime, my greatest is that I didn't introduce my mom to my fiance before her collapse, so that he could know her as she was before our whole world changed. But of all that I am thankful for today, one year and one day later, I am most thankful for my mother's life and the gift of my fiance.

It seems strange to me that the last year could be both the best and the worst of my life. What a strange world that we can be so broken and so happy at the same time. The universe is such a bizarre place. I still try to understand it sometimes, knowing that I probably never will. Maybe one day, at the end of my life I'll be able to look back and understand the utter insanity of this past year. How it all connects and fits together in the greater puzzle of the universe.

But until then, I'm so thankful for where I am today.


  1. Wow, that's a handful to endure. Pperhaps the rainbow was telling you and her something. Sometimes our happiness is bittersweet, but we grab what we can of life. This must have been hard to write. Bravo for your courage.

  2. What a beautiful post. I hope the universe keeps pointing you in the right direction. :-)

  3. Well, I have no smartass comment for this which has, strangely (or maybe not), left me with nothing to say. I haven't even seen my mother for 12 years.

  4. I'm touched by your honest and heartfelt post. It's always important to look for the good -- even when you're surrounded by bad. I'm glad you appreciate the path your sliding door led you on. Your mother's lucky she has you. Congrats on your engagement!

  5. Thank goodness you mother pulled through. Congrats again on the upcoming nuptials too. My heart goes out to you. In the end, family is really all you've got in this world. Everything else just seems to not be that important in the end.

  6. Such a beautiful letter. I'm so glad you still have your mother. It's so hard when a family member is hit with an illness, no matter what. Brain injury/memory loss is indeed difficult. I've been there. I'm so happy that your fiance was there for you. Thank goodness for such a wonderful blessing. :)

  7. What an incredibly emotional, life-changing moment...
    We are never totally alone when we hit that darkness. God placed that special man in your life at just the right time.

  8. I am so, so sorry that you had to go through something so tragic. Thank goodness your mother is still with you today, at least, and that you found somebody to help you cope with something so life-changing...

  9. It's amazing how quickly your entire world can change, eh? I think the older we get, the more we realize how fragile the balance is, which is why we have to look for the good in each day. I'm so happy for you -- that you have a wonderful fiance. My heart breaks a little for your loss, but I think these things happen to build us up, or at least, that's how I felt about the opportunities I was granted through working with my special needs brother. Every difficulty is actually an opportunity. =)

  10. Sometimes, God just brings you the support you need at the time you need it. My mother died 13 years ago and I still miss her.