This I Believe

Gina - Island Lake, Illinois
Entered on November 26, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: setbacks

I believe it is moments of crisis that allowed me to realize the important relationships in my life. It’s been quite a year for my family. I got engaged, my brother got married, and my grandma passed away all within a few months. But it was Labor Day, the day after my dad’s 65th birthday, when the strength of my family was truly tested. We had all spent the day together at my brother’s house – something we do just about every weekend and holiday. We barbecued brats, drank my dad’s latest homebrew beer on the porch, and shared the latest stories with each other. After leaving in the late afternoon, Shalin, my fiancée, and I returned to our modest townhouse not far away. It was almost midnight and I was sound asleep when I got the call from my mom.

“Dad’s having a heart attack . . . come to the Emergency Room right away.” I gasped in shock, cringed, and felt as if someone had slapped my face with those words. “How bad is it?” I replied when I could speak again.

“The doctor said it’s as bad as they get,” my mother answered with a quivering voice.

Shalin and I rushed to the hospital. My family stood around my dad’s hospital bed in the ER. The doctors were preparing for emergency heart surgery. They needed to open up a clogged artery with a stint. My brother was teary-eyed and I was scared. Characteristic of my dad, he told us not to worry – that everything was going to be okay. Not a minute after that, as my dad was being wheeled into surgery, his heart stopped again. On the loud speaker, we heard them call a Code Blue – this is what hospitals do when a patient is in danger of immediately dying. The nurses defibrillated him right in front of us, using the paddles to make his heart beat again. It wasn’t until later that I learned his heart stopped three other times that night.

As I sat in the cold waiting room that night, hoping to hear some positive news from a doctor, trying to comfort my mother, my heart wrenched. Over the next week, friends of my mom called and flocked to the hospital in waves. My brother’s friends did the same. I spoke with a few of my closest friends but did not hear from many others whom I thought would have been there for me.

We waited for 72 hours until the news finally started to get better. He would be okay but needed another surgery. It was a serious operation, but routine. After a week, he was miraculously almost ready to come home.

It was sometime over the course of that week and reiterated to me when my grandma died a few months later that I became conscious of my belief. Throughout my life, I tended to feel sorry for myself for my lack of close friendships. I envied my brother’s and fiancée’s close group of friends. What I failed to realize earlier was that the most important people in my life surround me everyday. Shalin, my dad, mom, brother, aunts and uncles, cousins . . . these are the people who would do anything for me at anytime. I believe it is moments of crisis that allowed me to realize the important relationships in my life.