Before you ride, before you work, before it’s too late

I almost lost my wife today.

Not the way I often do at the mall, where her petite five-foot frame too easily disappears behind department store racks.

And not the way I sometimes fear, when I foolishly question whether love is stronger than the anger that never fails to fade following a fight.

This time the heart I fell in love with gave out without a warning.

Or rather, without one we heeded.

Like the odd pain she complained about last night, that felt like someone punching her between the shoulder blades.

Or this morning, when she was too tired to help make the bed. Something we put off to a long standing iron deficiency still awaiting approval for another round of treatment.

But off to work she went, just like any other day.

Then a little after noon, she told her boss she wasn’t feeling well. Moments later, she was passed out at her desk.

Fortunately, the people she works with found her right away, and knew exactly what to do. And within minutes, paramedics from the Beverly Hills Fire Department had her on a gurney and on her way the ER, red lights and siren blaring.

She was already in surgery before I was halfway to the hospital.

That was followed by a tense couple hours in the waiting room, surrounded by strangers with worried faces just like mine, waiting for word on loved ones of their own.

A steady parade of physicians walked through the door, calling names that weren’t mine. And breaking news that brought smiles to faces that weren’t mine, either.

Finally I heard my name, and looked up as a doctor in surgical scrubs beckoned me down a hall leading to the cardiac ICU.

His words didn’t make me smile. That heart I loved was badly broken.

But unlike Humpty Dumpty, they were able to put it back together again. And the prognosis, thankfully, is good.

Only time will tell how much damage was done. If any.

Her life will be different. She’ll be on medication for the foreseeable future, and under the care of a cardiologist for life.

But at least she’ll have one. And I’ll still have her.

It could have been different.

If her coworkers had been at lunch. If the hospital had been farther away. If it had happened tonight, when I would have been away at a meeting, and she would have been home alone, with only the dog to call 911.

And the dog can’t reach the phone. Even if she did know how.

As cyclists, we accept a certain degree of risk. We understand that bad things can happen when we ride, but probably won’t.

And we get angry when it does, usually to someone else. Maybe because we’ve all had enough close calls to know it could be us, some other place, some other time.

People are fragile.

And bad things can happen to anyone. Anytime. Anywhere.

And sometimes, there’s no second chance to say the things you wish you’d said.

So say them. Please.

Now.

Take a moment to tell the people you love that you do. Before you ride. Before you go to work. Before it’s too late.

Because one day, hopefully not soon, it will be.

Tonight I’m going to sleep in an empty bed, with just the dog to keep me warm. And my heart will be miles away, badly broken. But getting better.

And thankfully, that bed won’t be empty long.

32 comments

  1. Ron says:

    Made me cry.

  2. Pam says:

    Good, strong hearts come in pairs. She’ll be better soon – with your help. (Yes, been there.) Meanwhile…trust the docs, trust her to get home soon, and sleep as well as you can. Shhh…don’t tell the dog just yet.

  3. mahythesis says:

    Woah; sorry to hear of your major troubles there. Strength, love, and healing to you both.

  4. Frank Peters says:

    You make me cry

  5. patrick says:

    Just as you often have on your bike, yesterday, you beat the odds again. You both will be in my prayers.

  6. Chris says:

    Very sad news! Here’s hoping for a full & speedy recovery. Best to you & yours!

  7. Michael says:

    So sorry to hear that news. Hope she is back home and you both are on your way to recovery soon.

  8. Sam says:

    Echoing others…a beautiful post and I will heed the advice. Hope you both recover from it and live together for many more years.

  9. Biker395 says:

    Sorry to hear the news, and I hope her recovery will be complete. You’re thought that you shouldn’t leave good things unsaid really hit home to me. I learned that lesson long ago and it is a good one. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. Opus the Poet says:

    Linked in my blog. Best wishes to you and your lovely bride, and keep the dog at the foot of the bed. When there’s an empty spot in the bed they sometimes try to “migrate” into it. Sending positive energy your way.

  11. Tim Zandbergen says:

    Hang in there !! I don’t know your name ,but ,obviously follow your work and cause.

    God will know you & your wife’s name so I will pray to Him for you & your bride for a peaceful heart & good recovery.

    Tim

  12. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for you and your wife for a complete recovery.

  13. Davkd says:

    Ted,

    I’ll keep you both in my prayers.

    Bro Dave

  14. gr8smokiesze says:

    We’re sending love, good energy, and prayers from Western North Carolina. Rehab does wonders these days. Our best for a speedy recovery and return home!

    Zeke and The Navigator

  15. Jim Lyle says:

    Each day is a gift. Speedy recovery!

  16. bikinginla says:

    Thank you all for your support; you amaze me. If I ever feel alone or forgotten in a world that can sometimes seem cold and uncaring, I will remember this day, and the kindness you’ve shown me.

    Bless you.

  17. Lois says:

    That happened to my father 6 years ago. I’m sure it seemed like forever to him to get better but, in retrospect, it wasn’t. He’s still running the family business and just turned 83 years old. Be patient with the recovery and soon the event will be barely visible in your rear view mirror.

  18. Louie Garcia says:

    Thank you for the eloquently poignant reminder Ted. Don’t worry too much. She WILL get better. Peace and blessings to you.

  19. Allan says:

    I hope you two are together again soon. I wish the best for her and hope she’ll be home soon.

  20. Erik Griswold says:

    All the best wishes and feelings, etc. from me too. Sorry to hear the news and even sorrier if, as you seem to indicate, it might have been discovered earlier if the Iron deficiency treatments had been approved and proceeded sooner.

  21. Ed Magos says:

    So sorry to hear that this happened to your wife. What a scary and traumatic event. I’m so thankful to hear that your wife is alive and recovering. May God be with the both of you throughout the next steps of healing and may she recover completely with no lasting effect. Life is fragile. Thanks for the gentle yet urgent reminder. – Ed M.

  22. ed says:

    Whoa – what a reality check – thanks for the reminder.

    Best wishes for a full and complete recovery.

  23. Eric says:

    Thank you for sharing your lovely words. It really puts into perspective how delicate life is and to appreciate those in our lives. Best wishes to you and your wife.

  24. John P says:

    Best wishes to you and your wife. Hopefully she’s well enough soon, and she’s home. Sorry to hear this.

  25. D. D. Syrdal says:

    Yikes, Ted, I’m so sorry to hear this. My best wishes to her for a full recovery, and many more happy years for you two together. I’m amazed you were able to pen such an eloquent post at this point.

  26. Timur Ender says:

    Stay strong in the struggle.

  27. [...] Best Wishes, Ted (Biking In L.A.) [...]

  28. emendia says:

    Oh my goodness; I am another normally silent follower of your blog… Shocked to see your post and wish your wife a speedy and full recovery! Thanks for your message.

  29. Wish you and your wife a speedy recovery! Very touching and it brought tears to my eyes.

  30. Ted, we haven’t met but please know I wish you and your well-loved wife the quickest and happiest outcomes in all things. Thank you for all you do for the biking community. ~Judy B.

  31. Peggy Laing-Krause says:

    Ted, so glad you’re wife is recovering and that fate allowed her to be in the right place at the right time… in this case, a GOOD thing. Prayers and good wishes coming your way. Thanks for always being there for your readers… now we can all be there for you!
    Peggy Laing-Krause

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