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.
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.