A friend asked me a couple days ago if I had any profound thoughts about life and death during the last week as I faced open heart surgery. I said that while I’d like to say that I had discovered Christopher Hitchens-style insights during my travails, the answer is no. I was certainly terrified but I was too busy actually being terrified to think much about it.
I am a bit embarrassed, in fact, to admit that the only thing I learned from it was the most predictable cliche of all and that is the value of family and friends. Yes, it sounds like a Hallmark card line, but that really is what impressed itself upon me more than anything else in the past week and a half. It really is deeply moving to me that my family and friends came together in my time of need to give me the support I needed. It meant so much to me seeing my three closest friends do whatever they could do to help.
Rick was the first one to the hospital and he had already made sure my family was called and kept updated. He’d already talked to the doctors and nurses and made sure they knew who they could give out information to and he was collecting every bit of information he could on my condition to keep everyone in the loop. Connie, who was (and is) in very bad health herself, was at the hospital the first night, in her wheelchair next to my bed holding my hand. Julie is now capably watching over me as I recover from the surgery, doting on me like a nosy mother and making sure I follow the doctors’ instructions to the letter.
Jeff and Chip and Tiffany from CFI Michigan came to visit, and Tiffany’s son Loki brought me a picture he colored of me (in the appropriate form of a devil fish). My brother Jack was on the phone from Colorado every day and he’d have been on a plane in a heartbeat if I’d asked him to be. My sisters Susie and Jill and my nephew Nate spent an entire evening keeping me entertained, smuggling in a Coke Zero to take the edge off the hospital food. My brother Mike came to visit while I was still unconscious from the surgery, but he called to check on me several times. Yeah, it sounds cliche, but this is what families do. It’s what friends do.
And all of you who left comments and sent emails telling me to get well soon and asking how I was doing, and who generously donated to help me get through this, thank you so much as well. I really do consider myself incredibly lucky in so many ways and the events of the last few days have only made that more clear. I am in awe of modern medicine, of the fact that I sit here less than a week after having my chest sawed open and be in almost no pain with only moderate medication to control it. And I am forever grateful to the staff at Butterworth hospital, which showed tremendous humanity toward me and did everything humanly possible to keep me as comfortable as possible.
More than one person has told me that what happened to me was a miracle. It wasn’t. It was, in fact, entirely mundane and routine. And that, in and of itself, is better than any miracle anyone has ever claimed. So Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Hannukah, Happy Festivus, Io Saturnalia, or whatever greeting you prefer. The point of it all is to make those human connections that enrich our lives in ways that false claims of miracles never could.