May 11, 2014 was memorable for me and my family. It was Mother's Day and I started the morning with a song written by my then 10-and-8-year-old kids and my favorite breakfast made by my husband. I received several very sweet gifts and a short time later was whisked down the street and surprised with a helicopter ride to our capital city. I unexpectedly received a ten day/nine night stay away from home which included daily housekeeping, room service and personal attention you can't get at any five-star hotel.
Once I returned home from that trip, I was spoiled for the better part of the rest of the year! I had delicious homemade meals delivered to my family for weeks. A maid service was hired help keep my house clean. I found myself with four personal trainers who worked with me and my exercise habits. I received a one-of-a-kind quilt stitched with love. I even had the opportunity to meet the Tony Award-winning, talented and extremely kind Harvey Fierstein while at a performance of Newsies with my son. I am willing to bet if you are a mom, you are pretty impressed with all that I received throughout 2014 because of Mother's Day!
While I would like to think I was worthy of that attention, it all came about because of one incident. On May 11, 2014 - which happened to be Mother's Day - I had a massive heart attack and collapsed at home. My husband immediately called 911 and performed CPR. I was whisked to the community hospital less than a mile from my house and sent via Life Star helicopter to another hospital in Hartford, Connecticut where I stayed for ten days and nine nights.
Once I came home, I was in recovery mode and was blessed with the kindness of friends who brought us delicious, heart healthy meals so I didn't have to cook every night. We hired a cleaning service to relieve me from the burden of cleaning my house when I was too weak to handle the responsibility on my own. I went to cardiac rehab and had 36 sessions with nurses and physical therapists to develop my cardiac strength, teach me about my medications and help guide me into a healthier lifestyle. My dear friend Hollie rallied the friends I traveled with in Up with People 23 years ago to assemble a quilt with messages of love and support from around the world so I could wrap myself in it - knowing my friends were always around me. And meeting Harvey Fierstein, well, I was a stalker fan sending him messages on Twitter telling him we wanted to meet him! And despite my many messages, he couldn't have been kinder to me or my son and went above and beyond to make sure we enjoyed the show.
While I wish I hadn't had that experience, it is not a stretch to tell you that the greatest gift I have ever received was on that Mother's Day. I was given the gift of life. Last year, the weeks leading up to May 11 were extremely emotional for me. My family and friends dealt with their roller coaster of emotions the previous year with the fear of loosing me and the elation of my survival. I never went through that. I stepped onto my roller coaster as I approached the year anniversary and remembered all that had happened within the year.
It was May 11, 2015 when I received another priceless gift - perspective. When it came to looking back at those 525,600 minutes I was given back because of the bravery of my family, the quick actions of my husband, the skilled doctors and nurses who cared for me and made the risky decisions to keep me on earth ... that is when it all hit me.
The past year was one filled with the generosity of friends and even strangers which was incredible, but it was the small moments that occur in the life of a stay-at-home mom that meant the most. The moments of cuddling with my son. Having the ability to do laundry again ... and again ... and again. Christmas. The eye rolling I am able to do in response to any Rush music being played or discussed. Enjoying the school orchestra concert and every scratchy note that floated through the air. Birthdays. The imperfect way I paint my daughter's nails. The pride in watching my kids in their summer theater production smiling for all to see. The fights I had to break up. Watching my kids sleep. The laughs shared with my family. Calls with my best friends. The rain, the sun, the snowy winter. Everything had a different meaning.
As I recognize the second anniversary of my heart attack, I will do the same thing. Appreciate all the smallest moments we tend to glance over, forgive the wrongdoings as the pain of remembering them weighs on our hearts and live every moment! Breathe in, breathe out. Smile. Hug. Love. Laugh. Live.