In late November, my husband had a heart attack. I waited a few months before I shared in this space about what happened to him. Almost immediately, I started to hear from those I know in the social media arena how I’d delivered a wake up call to them or to someone they knew. I received comments that they had forwarded my post to their husband, father, or friend. I am happy for that. It is a reality I wish on no one.
A few days ago, I received a message from a woman I know via Twitter. We have never met in person and yet when her husband’s best friend died this week at 44 from a massive heart attack, it was me she reached out to, because she knew that I could relate. My heart aches for Shelley and her husband, for this man’s wife and children.
And I can relate. I can feel my adrenaline flowing just reading her words. I ask myself every single day since November 23rd, “What if?”.
This story is the “what if” I fear.
Shelley wanted to share her friend’s story here. I am grateful because if my husband’s brush with death delivered a wake up call to a few, I truly believe that Shelley’s story will save more than a few lives as well.
Heart Attack – When a Loved One Dies
We buried my husband’s best friend today. He was just 44 years old. Heart attack.
To be completely honest, I think I’m still in shock. We all want to believe that these sorts of things don’t happen to people you love, they happen to other people, other families. And yet, here we are.
How could it be possible that this vibrant, musical, generous human being is no longer with us?
The hole he leaves in our lives is enormous, but compared to others, it’s just a drop in the ocean.
His mother shouldn’t outlive her children.
His sisters no longer have their baby brother.
His teenage daughter will never have him walk her down the aisle or dance at her wedding or even know her children.
His friends have lost a loyal and trustworthy advisor. Summer bonfires will be smaller, more subdued without his guitar and his voice.
A stone thrown into a pond creates an ever widening circle, expanding outwards. The same can be said of the effect one person can have on many lives. This was one such person. Hundreds of people came out to pay respects, to attend the funeal, to say their goodbyes.
My heart breaks for his family and his friends; for those who called him their brother, even without blood to bind them together.
Part of me is angry too. Advice not taken brought us to this point. Why the recommendations went unheeded, we’ll never know. Pride? Arrogance? Plain old stubborness? Hard to say. Doesn’t change the fact that a part of me would like to grab him by the lapels and shake him a bit and say ‘Can’t you see how many people you affected? Can’t you see how big a void you’re leaving in their lives simply because you don’t want to see a doctor? Can’t you feel just how much you’re loved?’
I renewed my resolve to tell people I love them more often and to make time for the things that matter, because it can all disappear in an instant. I’ve added reminders to my calendar to remember to text and call and check in with people I can’t always see, simply because they might not be here tomorrow.
We live like there’s always tomorrow to say I love you or to reach out and touch someone. A lot of the time, that’s true, but not today. Not for our friend.
Our lives are so much richer for having had him in it. There are memories I will cherish forever and even now I can smile when I remember them.
We buried my husband’s best friend today, but I’m still not ready to say goodbye.
Pleasantville Note: You can assess your risk on The Heart & Stroke Foundations page here.
*image credit The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada