OPINION –I gained a new appreciation for the word “clarity” this past week.
It’s the type of word that usually enjoys an optimistic attachment to some profound revelation or realization of personal truth. Common definitions associate clarity with a state of clearness or lucidity.
But until a few days ago, I hadn’t realized that some moments of clarity aren’t so enjoyable.
My particular moment of clarity came as I was savoring the rare pleasure of sleeping in on a Saturday morning. I was reflecting on just how great life was at that moment when my wife Becky came into the room and plopped down on the bed beside me.
She mentioned that she had a pain in her chest and just wanted to lie down until it passed. My first assumption was that she was suffering from a wayward air bubble. But as she described her discomfort in greater detail, alarm bells began to ring in the back of my mind.
She described the pain as if something were sticking through her chest and how it radiated up her neck and down one arm. Her skin was becoming clammy and she could not get comfortable no matter what she did.
These are classic symptoms of a heart attack and I suggested that it was time to get to the emergency room to get her checked out. As might be expected, Becky resisted the suggestion. “What if it’s nothing?” “If I just sit still for a bit, it will pass.” “I couldn’t be having a heart attack, I don’t fit the profile.”
On that last count she had a point. Becky had been eating healthy and exercising regularly for many months. She had dropped thirty pounds and looked fantastic. She really was taking care of herself.
But the pain was increasing and my concern was growing as I shepherded her into the car and drove her to Valley View Medical Center.
When we arrived at the hospital, I quickly learned that the magic words to unlock the doors of the emergency room are “chest pain.” Becky was immediately taken back into the ER while I signed the digital paperwork and was told to take a seat in the waiting area.
And that’s when my moment of clarity hit me. It was not a pleasant one.
For the first time in 21 years of marriage, I grasped that there was a possibility that my sweetheart might not always be in my life. The burden of this realization settled on me like a heavy blanket as I recognized that the good life I’d been relishing just a half hour before might be taking a very serious and permanent turn.
All the little worries about family finances, work, pesky car repairs, and the other minutiae that I had allowed to consume my thinking rightly receded into insignificance. At the same time, all those things I had been taking for granted about my lovely companion suddenly came into sharp focus. Nothing mattered more at that moment than her well-being.
Why hadn’t these things been so clear to me before? Was I only capable of appreciating what I had been blessed with when it was in danger of being taken away? This is what I mean when I say that not all clarity is a joyful discovery.
Thankfully, I was taken back to her bedside within half an hour and her skilled doctors and nurses had the situation well in hand. Three days of hospitalization and numerous tests and procedures later, Becky was released and allowed to come home with no permanent damage to her heart.
In addition to being a wake up call for me, this experience brought home a couple of important lessons.
Don’t be afraid to be wrong when it comes to getting checked out for possible heart problems. No one wishes to burden others by falling ill, but a delay of even few minutes can be the difference between getting help in time and being too late.
The other lesson that came from our ordeal is that the big events that we waste our lives worrying about seldom come to pass. Instead, those life-changing moments that bring clarity have a tendency to come out of the blue, when we least expect them.
Our biggest challenge isn’t found in avoiding those moments. It’s found in living our lives and loving those around us in such a way that they are never taken for granted.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.