Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • To say that you should live your life as if today were your last is cliche and utterly impossible to comprehend. This sentiment is pretty much how I feel about the summer of 2010 except that it was impossible to comprehend first and foremost and there was a cliche buried in there to be uncovered later. Few of us are as gifted as I would find myself that summer and it all started on a Thursday night following a long run, a call with a friend celebrating the goodness of life that seemed to happily arrive. Hanging the phone up, my night proceeded just like any night had.

    Except I didn't wake up the next morning. Or at any point the next day.

    I awoke to a dog panicked lying on top of me, paws on either side of my head, frantically breathing an inch from my face. Although Weez could let herself out through the dog door, she couldn't feed herself and she was ready for this impromptu fast to end. So I got up, but in the getting up, a completely mundane task, I started to panic a bit. It was profoundly strange, unnerving. I walked down the hall toward the kitchen ping-ponging off the walls, unable to stand up straight and my vision was split in two. Everything was layered one image on top of another. Just as I would become overwhelmed, worried over it all I would fall back, confused and totally exhausted. Painfully tired. Looking at my cell phone, I could barely see it, read the date, and couldn't figure out why it said Saturday. What happened to Friday?

    What the hell was going on?

    A ride to the ER, a spinal tap, two pints of blood pulled and an MRI later I found out I had had an ischemic stroke, a blood clot hit my brain, my thalamus, my sleep center. As luck would have it I slipped into a coma in my own damn bed, but even more fantastic I would be wheeled from one room to the next and drift away, asleep. It was this horrible nightmare, the details of which I was utterly unaware at the time and will happily remain in ignorance forever. Sleep was my savior.

    Turns out I had a Patent Foramen Ovale, a hole in my heart that everyone has in utero that normally closes shortly after birth. Some 10-20% of the global population have this congenital flaw, but less than 1% of us have a stroke.

    I was one of the lucky few, winning at this strange lottery I didn't even know I was a ticket holder for.

    Strange being a highly active, super health conscious 35 year-old woman suddenly unable to see or do or live as I had just two days prior. Add to this the fact that a stroke wasn't even on my radar as a distant possibility.

    It would take 6 weeks for me to be able to see a unified binocular image and this feat was only possible if my eyes were looking straight ahead; shift them left or right and the chaotic double would be back. It would take a year and a half to get through the quagmire of sleep that lay so thick upon me. It gripped me tightly and while I was so grateful for it in the ER, I cursed it often, shed tears regularly over it.

    And the tears were shed daily for an array of totally warranted reasons. Tears filled with pain, frustration and anger. It was all so unfair. Just when things were starting to feel like they were on track, I got punched in the gut or the cranium as the case may be.

    Fast forward through months of therapy, heart surgery to repair the hole and emotional upheaval by the bucketful, I started thinking ahead about what I wanted, where I was. I wanted to open doors do new things. I wanted to incorporate story telling and images to scream to the world what had happened to me, to compliment the work I was doing when I could actually engage with it again in the way that good work calls for.

    So I found a filmmaker whose work I really liked, emailed him and offered to trade some of my skills that may help his efforts in exchange for a tiny slice of his knowledge. Our meeting would be the first outing I had in months, the first time I was able to drive and I was incredibly nervous, terrified really. Here I was this broken person, trying to re-enter the world, unsure of so much.

    We met at a coffee bar above the local Co-Op and climbing the stairs I remember gripping the railing, worried I would fall because of my still-wonkified vision and wondering what I was thinking, if I was even ready for this and as I came to the top of the stairs I saw him across the room.

    And here is where the cliche comes in.

    As I walked toward him everyone disappeared, the quiet din turned to hushed silence; it was just him. There was just him sitting there. Just like that, everything fell away, including the insanity of the last few months of my life.

    And we talked.

    And he was more perfect than I could possibly imagine.

    We spent a few weeks feigning a professional relationship before we would find ourselves in the light of a full moon in August where we would have a storybook first kiss.

    He asked: "Where did you come from?" in a tone of awe.

    I referred to him as my consolation prize because he was this amazing gift I received as I was parting ways from this horrid game I never wanted to play. He and I have been inseparable since that day in August and he is truly the biggest, most wonderful love of my life.

    To think you can be hit so hard only to emerge from the ashes to encounter big love, your best friend, the person you will spend the rest of your life with: amazing.

    We're getting married August 2012, two years from the day we met.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.