When I began this blog I promised to post regularly. Since my last post was in February, I feel the need to offer an explanation. I had a mild heart attack in late February. I’m doing fine now, thank you. A number of people sent their good wishes and it’s very nice to be reminded that people care about you. After the ‘cardiac event’ I had a mild bout of depression. I was told that depression usually follows a heart attack. That didn’t really make me feel any better, but I guess it is useful information.
I’ve been depressed before. I don’t talk about it, none of us do. Admitting to having bouts of depression, even mild bouts, makes us sound so…human. I typically don’t even use the word ‘depression’. I call it ‘the blues’ because the word ‘depression’ makes me feel like I need to tiptoe around and be extra quiet. ‘The blues’ shows itself in me with two symptoms: 1) a lack of focus and 2) a sense of apathy. I didn’t write or post because I couldn’t focus on one subject and, well, it seemed meaningless anyhow. That, of course, was the voice of ‘the blues’. Combine those two things with my natural tendency to procrastinate and, as you may imagine, there are a lot of things lying around my house that need completed.
Someone asked me shortly after my episode if it scared me. Someone else asked if I learned anything from it. At the time the answer to both questions was ‘no’. I’ve had a little time to reflect and here’s what has come to mind.
There was not any moment during the entire episode when I was made afraid by the prospect of death. Let me tell you a story here. One afternoon, back when I was a minister, I got a phone call that one of my members was in the ER with a heart attack. I rushed to the hospital and was allowed to be with the man. As I entered the room, he looked up at me and I saw real honest-to-goodness fear in his eyes. He thought he was going to die, and he was afraid. During my episode, I didn’t feel that fear. The ultimate decision as to the day and time of my exit will not be in my hands, nor will it be in the hands of physicians, and I’m willing to trust that ultimate decision to the only hands capable of making it.
So, in thinking back about the ‘recent unpleasantness’, I think that I’m not afraid to die. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not getting in line for that particular bus, but the idea of crossing over to that other plane doesn’t disturb me.
What do disturb me are the questions which keep rolling around in my mind. They’re simple questions, maybe more disturbing because they are so simple.
“What have you done? What will you do?”
I don’t hear this as an accusation. I hear it as a challenge to evaluate my life. Is this a better place because I was here? Is there more humanity, more compassion, more forgiveness because I was here? Is any one individual’s life just a little better because I was here? I’m still examining those questions. I’ll share the answers as they reveal themselves to me.