"I love you Olivia. Mark, take care of her. You two take care of each other. Remember Honey, Mommy loves you. Goodbye."
I sank into the bed, felt my soul move from my body and go into "the other side". My daughter and then-husband stood, her sobbing and him yelling, as they watched my monitors go flatlined. My heart had stopped and my lungs were no longer pushing air in and out of my body. Life had left me and I was in a "better place", for the time being.
The week before, I was so angry that the cardiologist's office had called and had changed my next appointment, citing that the doctor was very concerned about my recent test results on my heart. Had they not rescheduled my appointment for Christmas Eve at noon, I wouldn't have been so incensed, but I just knew my then-husband would be pissed. Being O.C.D.(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) he was not good with change. For him every minute of Christmas Eve and Christmas had a schedule, the same every year with changes and/or interruptions simply unacceptable. But since I was being told this was truly a matter of life and death, I figured I had better go to the appointment.
"We need to admit you to the hospital," the cardiologist insisted. "You need an angiogram, as soon as possible. We'll admit you today to monitor you, but the soonest we can do the procedure will be two days from now, December 26th. I want you to go straight from here to our local hospital and check in. They'll be waiting for you."
Stunned, my then-husband looked at me in the doctor's presence and asked, "Who the fuck is going to cook that turkey now?" My daughter just stood and wept, worried that I was dying.
Sadly, I was not surprised by his reaction. He bitched and moaned all the way to the hospital. We stopped by home first to get a few things for my stay. Over and over he admonished me for ruining his Christmas with my selfishness by going to that appointment and now he would have to wait another year for the only day he enjoys all year long.
"Thanks, you selfish bitch. Thanks a fucking lot," he muttered as he drove.
I had become so immune to his constant bitching that I simply ignored him, focusing on how I would handle spending the time in the hospital. I hadn't even begun to think about the severity of the procedure, nor how much danger my heart condition has actually put me in.
A few hours later I was being revived by a couple of nurses after being dead for 2 min 32 sec. In a state of altered consciousness I felt my soul slam back into my body after my ethereal experience. My body hurt, everywhere, and badly. Feeling heavy and thick, filled with dire pain, I groaned as I looked into my daughter's face. For the rest of my life I will remember her sad, red, wet face, and her mouth open as she screamed.
"MOOOM! Her eyes are open! Can you hear me? Oh my God, she's alive! MOM!!"
I felt guilt, instantly, for hurting her so. My then-husband just stood there, angry, not saying a word. Within 15 minutes he was ready to leave the hospital. He took Olivia and headed home, only to sulk and wallow in his self pity. I didn't see them again until 1pm on Christmas Day.
That night I barely slept, thinking about the miraculous events that had occurred and the beautiful place I had been. The amazing colors, the hum of the universe, the deep understanding I had gained of life and existence all filled my mind and warmed my heart. While I was only gone 2 1/2 minutes in life, my experience on the other side lasted hours and hours. The knowledge and peace I gained was greater than the culmination of all of the events spanning my entire life. Suddenly everything made sense and it was all so ludicrous and silly, meaningless yet more meaningful than ever before.
In the coming weeks I realized how sick I was of my situation, especially my marriage, and wanted to make changes. My daughter moved out to start her own life, and even though I missed her terribly, I was glad she was able to be independent. Soon, she met a wonderful young man and they fell in love.
For the next year I asked my husband every Friday to go to therapy with me, but he refused. After one year, to the day, I went to him and told him I was leaving. He then asked to go to therapy with me, which lasted all of 6 sessions. Each session ended with us riding home as he screamed at me, calling me a "cunt", complaining I had "thrown him under the bus." He wanted me to lie to the therapist, found it unacceptable that I would tell her our private issues, and was not going to allow me to continue this way. After 6 weeks of this insanity I separated from him and soon after, we were divorced.
Highway, began taking better care of myself, and lost 70 lbs. I made many, many new friends, began traveling, started a new career and my own business, got my motorcycle endorsement and eventually, bought my own motorcycle. Now we are married, having just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. We are riding across America with reckless abandon on our Road Pickle, enjoying life as it comes, not as we plan it. I'm no longer afraid of life or death. I've learned to live in the NOW, embrace what life brings me, and to remember that everything is temporary.
The physical pain, the emotional pain, the joy, the elation, the indifference, they all pass. Life is like riding. I can ride a thousand roads, and many of them look and feel similar, but in truth none are the same. You just keep moving and they pass by, never to be traveled in quite the same way again. Every moment that we hide, refuse to try, refuse to live, we are wasting the only thing that matters. Life is not meant to be easy; always happy, always sunny. It's meant to be many things! It's meant to rain, sometimes it's meant to hail, and sometimes the sun is meant to shine. Sometimes the sun is very hot and some nights are very dark. None of that matters. The only thing that matters, the only thing that's real, is life itself.
It took dying to teach me that I was already dead. Now I'm riding my life and I'm finally alive.