Would it be considered ironic to say that the day I felt most alive was the day I experienced a great loss? It was January 3. We drove to the hospital for the third time in just a few days knowing that this was probably the last time. My mind wouldn't stop turning over, trying to create a picture in my mind of what was going to come within the next few hours. Trying to prepare myself for the shock, horror and pain. But nothing could prepare me.
We walked into the familiar halls of this hospital. Halls that I wandered at 2 a.m. to find a bathroom. Halls I woke up to just 24 hours prior when we had spent the night in a waiting room. The mood was somber. The air was filled with tension and sadness. The faces on our friends spelled out exactly what was happening. We didn't even have to ask. We moved inside the waiting room and exchanged weak smiles with friends and strangers. But in less than an hour, those strangers would be connected to us for life. We were the people who were at the hospital the day our dear friend, my husband's best friend, passed away. We were the people who sat on the floor passing tissue boxes around, but there wasn't enough tissue to soak up the tears of these broken hearted people. You would think in a hospital they would have softer tissue. My nose was red and raw.
The UFC Crew (as I thought of us in that moment) gathered outside to make calls and get a breath of fresh air. It was a cloudy morning but as we all stood outside, the sun made its way out from the clouds and over the hospital buildings to shine brightly upon us. He was with us and he always would be. I felt alive.
Back inside we watched as our friend's widow, son and daughter staggered into the waiting room. Our hope was lost and our hearts broke. I looked around the room and studied the mournful faces around me but I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I thought if I looked at her long enough, I could somehow take some of her pain away and place it on myself so she wouldn't have to carry the burden alone.
One by one, people slowly left. We didn't want to leave. If we left, it would be for the last time. We lingered. We stalled. We talked. We cried. We put one foot in front of the other and found ourselves in the parking lot. We said goodbye to people who just weeks earlier were strangers and now had become friends.
We drove home in near silence, digesting the reality of what just happened. On that day, in that moment of horrible sadness, every breathe I took reminded me that I was alive. I breathed in and I breathed out without even thinking. I glanced over at my husband. He breathed in and he breathed out. We were alive. Never have I felt more in touch with my existence than that day.
The sadness of January 3 touches me every day. The smallest thought about him or her or the kids can send me into a fit of tears. But I go back to the biggest lesson of that day and remember that it taught me to feel alive. Feel alive in every moment no matter how painful it may be.