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this is the day! a personal reflection of gratitude, faith & love!

Thursday, May 23, 2024


HAPPY THURSDAY, EVERYONE!


Today Laura is sharing a deeply personal post

as she reflects on the 25th anniversary of a day that changed her life...

the day she experienced a sudden cardiac arrest!


As she revisits this experience,

she reflects on the gifts of gratitude, faith and love

that God has provided then, now & during the 25 years in between!


Since we first began writing Our Grand Lives a year and a half ago,

our primary intent has been to share lighthearted content 

that focuses on hands-on experiences and real life activities 

that we enjoy with grandkids (our Littles

as well as moments that celebrate the gift of family!

At the same time, we also gave ourselves permission 

to document family adventures, traditions and life events

and to offer insights and, perhaps, occasional words of wisdom

that we’ve learned along the way!

This is the day that the Lord has made…

Psalm 118: 24 was my dad’s favorite bible verse!

He would repeat this phrase to himself and to us often,

 always with hope and assurance in his voice,

and It was read at his memorial service when we said our earthly goodbyes!


Like him, I do my best to begin each day with these same words on my lips…

and my hope is that the life story I’m sharing here today

will remind us all that each day is a rich and precious gift from God above!

Hearts and love have always been woven into the fabric of my life!  I relish a great love story – either on film or in a juicy novel!  I am equally moved by the lyrics of a beautiful love song, easily getting lost in its melody!  


The photo below is of a pin that our Daughter J made for me when she was in Kindergarten… a Valentine’s gift to her mom. It has always brought a smile to my face… a simple and sparkly paper craft created with love!  

You see, my birthday happens to fall on Valentine’s Day – the day each year that love is celebrated – and, as you can imagine, the day has always had special meaning in my home.  My mom and dad each year would shower me with love and announce that I was their valentine gift to each other.  My mom would bake and then carefully create a cherry chip heart cake to celebrate.  I even had my very own “valentine” dress for a few years – handmade from fabric covered in hearts!  At school, my birthday celebration was always intertwined with the planned Valentine’s Day festivities.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve continued to feel that special love as each birthday rolls around, and family, friends and, yes, countless kindergarten students, have celebrated with me over the years!


Yet, there is another date that I now commemorate and recognize as my second “birthday” – my “Heart Day” actually which is May 23!  This year, that date (TODAY) is extra special as it’s the 25th anniversary of my “Heart Day"!


Our family and many of our friends

know of the events that transpired on May 23, 1999.

In fact, they've most likely heard the story over and over and over...

Many of them have vivid memories of that day and what transpired!

My knowledge is all second hand…


Twenty five years ago today, on May 23, 1999, my world – our family’s world – changed in an instant!  It was a beautiful Sunday morning and my hubby was on the golf course for the first time that season, playing a round of golf with friends!  My in-laws were visiting as we were planning a family gathering later that afternoon to celebrate our girls’ birthdays – our kindergartener, Daughter J, had just turned 6 and Daughter A, our baby, was now a one year old!  I’d spent the evening before decorating the house, prepping the food and tidying up.

I brought the girls to visit my classroom in early May 1999.


Since it was Pentecost Sunday, I was wearing my favorite red dress and the girls were also dressed festively in red. It was 9:05 a.m. and we were due at church – during those years I led Sunday morning music time for the Sunday School kids at the 9:30 service.  I remember being in the doorway between our kitchen and the garage and bending over to pick up Daughter A to put her in the car.  The last thing I recall thinking was “Wow!  Do I feel dizzy!”  After that, I have only 3 or 4 snippets of  memory from the following week and a minimal recollection of several weeks after!   


I had experienced, as doctors later explained, a “sudden cardiac arrest” on my kitchen floor!  My in-laws immediately called 911 and my dear father-in-law began CPR.. Within minutes the local police arrived – they attempted to get my heart back into rhythm twice with a portable defibrillator that had been installed in the squad car just six weeks earlier.  In fact, when the police officers used the defibrillator on me that day, it was the first time it had been used on a real person.  My heart did not respond and then a few moments later the rescue squad arrived and after a few more attempts they were able to get my heart back into rhythm.  I was rushed by ambulance to our nearby hospital while my mother-in-law comforted our sweet girls.  The police went to the golf course, located my hubby and told him what had happened and when he arrived at the hospital, the chaplain was there to meet him. Hubby was living most people’s worst nightmare!   My parents were up north at their lake home and arrived home after church and a morning grocery run to hear the phone ringing off the hook.  Needless to say, the groceries were not put away (and in fact laid on the counter for several days afterwards) as my parents rushed to the cities to be with me.  My brothers and their families arrived at the hospital as did other close family and close friends who all quickly took vigil.


What followed as I’ve been told, were countless hours and days of worry, waiting and prayers.  I was in a coma, hooked up to many machines and life saving devices, totally unaware of anything that was happening.  Later that day, the paramedics that had responded to the call, came to the hospital to check on me.  They told Hubby and my parents that every link in the chain had worked that morning and that it was now in God’s hands.  The doctors echoed that sentiment as well.  My hubby came home to talk to the girls that evening and while he was at home he received a call from the hospital that I had experienced another “code blue.”  He raced back to the hospital, again not sure what he would find.  


It was such a precarious time… one of the nurses that had tended to me that day, sat by my mom’s side when her shift ended, praying with my mom during that first dark night.  The following morning, Hubby and my parents received discouraging news from a neurologist that IF I came out of my coma, there was over a 70% chance that I would not be able to live independently…  heavy stuff, especially for a father of two young girls!   As word spread of what had happened, my family was overwhelmed by the response of our friends, our church family, our colleagues, our community and strangers alike.  We heard of prayer groups gathering in our workplaces and of multiple prayers chains going out via email. After three days in a coma, I woke up, fully conscious and aware of my surroundings!  In my circle of loved ones we have often referred to this as “our miracle” – In fact, the doctor on call that day, as well as several doctors since, have told us that there was more at work that day than their skill…  


After much testing it was determined that I had developed a condition known as idiopathic cardiomyopathy.  This condition, brought on, in my case, by a viral infection, was described as an inflammatory disorder of the heart muscle.   The heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently.  Due to the inflammation or enlarged heart, the electrical system of the heart can go “haywire” The doctors further explained that the only warning signs I might have felt prior to the event could have been some dizziness or fatigue.  Well… I had, in fact, experienced a bit of each, but what young mom during allergy season hasn’t?  


By the end of the week, I had an internal pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in my chest – my doctors call it “my insurance policy” and I am now on my fourth device!  Technology and its advances are amazing!  Ten days later I was headed home!


June 11, 1999 - One of my brothers and Mom came over to celebrate her birthday!

I’m not sure who looked more tired… Mom had definitely been through a lot, too!

We had LOTS to celebrate!


For several months after, I basically rested and rested and rested some more with lots of people supporting us – driving us places, feeding us, cleaning our home!  I received neurological testing and, while I still have occasional short-term memory loss and have trouble keeping a train of thought going, the doctor’s continue to be amazed at my recovery!  (Of course, I’m 25 years older, so some of my memory issues are now considered “normal”!  😉

It was a quiet summer!

All I wanted to do was to snuggle my girls!


At that time (again, 25 years ago!) doctors shared with us that out of the people who experienced sudden cardiac arrest, outside of a medical setting, only 1 in 10 made it to the hospital alive and that out of those, only 1 out of 10 went back to leading a full life. They have also attributed my recovery and quality of life to the fact that my father-in-law (bless his soul!) started CPR – even though he had not been trained in CPR, he knew to begin chest compressions which in turn allowed the following measures to work!  While I know this to be true and I am ever grateful to my dear father-in-law and his quick thinking, I also know, beyond a shadow of doubt, as did the rescue workers, the doctors and my FIL, that God’s handiwork was all around me!



In those early months, Hubby and I prepared ourselves for what the future might hold.  We were told that many people with my condition went on to need a heart transplant while the likelihood of a full recovery was rare.  Later that year, we were told that my heart had, in fact, rebounded!  THANKS BE TO GOD!  While my heart function has never completely recovered, I’ve still been able to live a life filled with immeasurable goodness!  I found myself sharing the details of my cardiac episode with local news media, urging communities to install portable defibrillators in their builidings! I also spoke to church groups about my experience!

Of course, I have dealt with the residual effects from all that happened – fatigue, heart arrhythmias, night terrors and the side effects of medications have been repeated stumbling blocks.  More challenging though has been listening when my body says “slow down” and eventually developing confidence once again in my body, trusting my memory skills and believing in the strength of my own heart. There were times when I’ve had to accept my own physical and emotional limitations which could prove frustrating and I’ve had frequent bouts of “survivor’s guilt” always wondering why I was saved when so many others with the same condition were not as fortunate.


And… let’s not forget my “insurance policy”!  My defibrillator actually “did its job” and saved my life in the fall of 2016, seventeen years later!  Again, I was at home with Hubby this time and, at first, we didn't quite know what was going on!  Within moments, I regained consciousness, grateful once again!


I’ve now had a lot of years to adjust to these realities and changes.  I returned to teaching full time a year after my cardiac arrest and soon after was up to speed with my volunteer experiences, as well! Some days I even manage to forget that this event is even part of my history. In fact, there are moments when I touch my chest or see its scar and only then does reality return!


Yet, through all these ups and downs,  I have been repeatedly reminded of the countless gifts God has showered upon me!  



Today, of all days, I am reminded of the many gifts God has placed in my path 

these past 25 years…

 the gifts of gratitude, faith and love!







Twenty five years later, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for so many things!  I’m forever thankful for my in-laws who took the initiative during those first critical moments and saw our girls and me through it.  I’m indebted to the emergency workers and the medical staff who cared for me during those early days and to my doctors who have continued to champion for me since.  I’m humbled by my amazing circle of family and friends who have prayed for me and walked with me each day with special thanks to my husband, our daughters and our immediate families.  I cherish you all!


The photo collage below is a glimpse of a few of the memories and moments I’ve been able to experience during the past twenty-five years.  Moments I could have so easily missed!   

I am ever mindful of the precious gift of time that has been given to me since that Spring day 25 years ago - time spent pursuing work I was passionate about and now the opportunities retirement presents, time that allowed for the restoration of my health, time spent making memories with loved ones - these are all blessings!  Of course, spending life with a man who has held my hand through it all, watching our babies grow into the beautiful souls they are today and recently welcoming our SIL and two beautiful granddaughters into our family are all priceless gifts that I treasure!  Being here to celebrate all the moments of life with those I love is a blessing that I’ve promised myself to never take for granted!   Through it all, God has sustained us and carried us…. Always… always, holding us in the palm of His hand.  THANK YOU, GOD... WHAT A GIFT!








I have always known God’s grace and faithfulness in my life thanks to a solid foundation set by my mom and dad.  I grew up in a family of faith with parents who walked the walk.  As far back as I can remember, I’ve known that I am a Child of God and that all good things come through Him.  My parents taught my brothers and I about God’s grace and His unconditional love and they modeled that in untold ways!  When Hubby and I were married, our wedding and the foundation of our life together was guided by two Bible verses - “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) and then “For where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.”  (Matthew 6: 21).  We were both blessed by parents who provided compasses of faith and all four supported and loved us every step of the way!  

My parents and Hubby’s parents at different points in life!!  

So grateful for their example and all they taught us!


All of them were by our side every step of the way but especially so during the summer of 1999. We relied on them so often and counted on their presence daily. Sadly, none of them are with us any longer, but their legacies of faith and family live on!  


Proverbs 3: 5 and Psalm 46: 10 are Bible verses we have turned to often!

Each has provided clarity during times of doubt or fear and each has brought needed assurance that no matter what is happening around us, God is present, our refuge and strength.  I often wonder how people without faith survive the crises that come with living. Over the years, as my story has been shared, so many people - friends, acquaintances and even strangers - have shared their own faith story with me. Knowing that God walks by my side, our side, even carrying us at times, brings us hope, confidence, comfort and peace!  THANK YOU, GOD! WHAT A GIFT!





      



The breadth and depth of God’s love is all around us and is the ultimate gift through all of this!  May my story be a steadfast reminder of His grace and love!  I truly believe that the relationships in my life are stronger and deeper because of what I went through! I believe that that has been the sprinkling of gifts God has left for me along the way! Along life’s journey – with its joys and challenges – God walks by our side and His miracles abound! We just have to respond with open eyes and hearts to see these blessings and to trust in His enduring love!  


This gift of love also challenges us all by inviting us to respond to His love! We can do that by being a light to those around us!  A gift we, too, can share and pass on to others! THANK YOU, GOD! WHAT A GIFT!


God is Good!

I’ll never know this side of heaven, why this happened, why I was spared or why our lives took a different direction than what I'd planned (and believe me, I'm a planner)! Yet, I can embrace and celebrate every gift God has blessed me with, knowing that God has a plan for my life as He does for us all!  The fact that May 23, 1999 fell on Pentecost Sunday has never been lost on me!  You see, on Pentecost we remember that the Holy Spirit was sent from above to draw our attention to God and to fill our hearts with His goodness, compassion and love!


Now, just as our parents did before us, it's our time to provide a firm foundation for our children and grandchildren. May we, with God's help, create such a legacy of gratitude, faith and love! I'm so grateful to be here and to have the opportunity to do so! THANK YOU, GOD! WHAT A GIFT!

I pray that in some small way, 

my story will touch your heart and give you pause to stop and think 

about the many ways in which God’s gifts of 

gratitude, faith & love

have blessed your own life!

THANK YOU, GOD! WHAT A GIFT!

This is the day that the Lord has made!

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

If you are still reading… WOW!

Thanks so much for following along!

It means the world to us,

as does your support and encouragement!

As always, we welcome your comments at the end of this post


Next time we’ll be back to our normal programming 

as we get ready to kick off SUMMER FUN with our Littles!

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We wish you a wonderful kick off to the summer season ahead,

as you get ready to celebrate Memorial Day during the coming days!

If you are looking for last minute holiday inspiration -

things to do with Littles this weekend, look no further!

This post has it all!



SPECIAL THANKS TO

Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop from Ridgehaven Homestead

Tuesday Turn About from My Wee Abode

Crazy Little Lovebirds from Crazy Little Lovebirds

Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot from Boondock Ramblings

Busy Monday from A Pinch of Joy

Monday Morning Blog Club from Sticky Mud & Belly Laughs

from God's Growing Garden, Stone Cottage Adventure, Lisa's Everyday Life

& Eclectic Red Barn

Thank you for featuring this post on your sites!

❤ We love our blogging community! ❤


❤️ We are delighted to join the following link up parties and blog hops! ❤️

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38 Comments


Guest
6 days ago

What an amazing testament! Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us of the miracles all around us!

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Our Grand Lives
2 days ago
Replying to

Thank YOU for taking the time to read and comment! Life with all of it's hidden miracles - big and small - is a gift from God to be celebrated. every day! - 💕 Laura

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Jayne SMABL
Jayne SMABL
Jun 02

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Laura. I'm so glad that this had a happy ending. I got quite emotional reading your post as I can totally relate. My husband had sudden heart failure at 34 and thanks to our selfless donor and his brave family giving him the gift of a new heart, we get to share this amazing life with him still. Each year we have a heart day too! So happy heart day to you and wishing you many more years of health and happiness. :) #MMBC

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Our Grand Lives
Jun 03
Replying to

Thank you for sharing your husband's story, Jayne! I visited your site this morning and was able to find Craig's recollection of his transplant! (Hopefully you'll see the comment I left there.) What an amazing story. It's times like that when we truly discover what matters in life! I'm grateful that your hubby is around to celebrate his "Heart Day" with you and your boys and I understand the immense gratitude you must hold for his donor and his family! So glad we connected through #MMBC! Thank you, too, for featuring our post there this week! We are grateful! 💕 Laura

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lois_flowers
Jun 01

Laura, what a blessing to be able to celebrate 25 years post heart attack! So glad your father-in-law was there that day and knew what to do. What a journey, and what a story of God's faithfulness!

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Our Grand Lives
Jun 02
Replying to

So true! Every day is indeed a gift from above and I will be forever grateful to my father-in-law. I know that his quick thinking is what preserved my qyality of life and I also am confident that God was surrounding us all that morning! I'm grateful that you took the time to read my story and to share your kind words! God is good! 💕 Laura

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Guest
May 30

What a beautiful story of love and support from family, friends, neighbours and the community. Everything fell into place that day for you to be here today to share this. Thank you for sharing your story with #pocolo Chickenruby

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Our Grand Lives
May 30
Replying to

You are so right... I believe that God was watching over me that day and every day since. Thanks for providing the opportunity to share my story at #pocolo! Thanks for stopping by! 💕. Laura

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Guest
May 30

As I read through your post, I was deeply touched. God is so good all the time. I'm happy that He has allowed you to share your story with all of us. I am happy to feature your post this Friday at The Crazy Little Lovebirds link party #40. It was a scary situation, but in the end, you are able to look back and count all of your beautiful blessings. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

-Steph@CrazyLittleLovebirds


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Our Grand Lives
May 30
Replying to

How lovely, Steph! We are tickled to be featured in this week's link up. The Crazy Little Lovebirds link up has been so supportive of our blog and we appreciate it and I'm grateful to be able to share my story of thanksgiving and blessings! 💕 Laura

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