THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Everything about life fascinates me, but one of the most intriguing aspects is the way its little ironies work.
Good somehow produces Bad. Bad miraculously creates Good.
And we mortals experience both.
Case in point:
Since we discovered the cause of Gwen the Beautiful’s stroke and how to overcome it her health has been getting better and better. She’s well. She’s whole. She’s happy.
But just a few days ago out of all that improvement came a crisis of the first magnitude.
Last Monday night I was awakened from sleep by a loud crash. Followed by a series of thumps as though someone was falling down the stairs. But the sound wasn’t’ coming from the stairway. It came from the bathroom. Groggily, I reached out for Gwen.
She wasn’t there.
My grogginess vanished.
“Gwen? Gwen? What’s going on?”
Even as I said it I was getting out of bed. From the bathroom, Gwen called out weakly. “I think I need you,” she said.
I flicked on the lamp on my nightstand. Hurried across the room to the bathroom doorway.
And found Gwen lying on the floor, surrounded by cosmetics that had fallen from a big, old, wooden rack we use for storage in there. Gwen lay on her back beside the rack, arms straight at her sides, legs extended perfectly straight as well.
Gwen’s head was twisted against the wall. Her tongue was out. Her eyes wide open.
She wasn’t moving.
Not a twitch.
Not an eye flutter.
Not a breath.
I knelt down and put my hand on her neck. No pulse.
The only positive thing about what I was looking at was that there was no blood.
I’ve always thought of myself as the kind of person who performs best under pressure. “Crises ‘R Us.’” In an emergency the world around me slows to a crawl, time seeming to stop while I become aware of what’s happening, figure out what to do…and then do it.
Not Monday night.
Monday night I stared at the face of the person I love most in the world, and it was the face of death. Gwen and I both have taken CPR, but did I tilt back her head, clean Gwen’s airway, and start compressions?
I did not.
Training went right out the window.
Did I do the practical thing and run to the phone to call 911?
Nope. Practicality was wiped from my mind.
What about the spiritual route? Did I pray? Or try to contact the Universe in any other way?
Not by a long shot. I was way too overwhelmed.
Instead, I wrapped my arms around her head and cradled her and howled, as loudly as I could, “Gwen! Gwen! I love you!”
Gwen’s eyelids fluttered. I said it again. “Gwen! Gwen!”
She took a shallow, ragged breath. Another. Her eyes moved. Focused.
“What’re you doing?” she said. “Is something wrong?”
“I said, “Do you know where you are?”
She looked around, puzzled. “What am I doing on the floor…?”
“I don’t know. Let’s put you in bed.”
I raised her to her feet, half-carried her to the bed. The next morning she was fine, as though nothing had happened. But something had. And we needed to get to the bottom of it.
We went to Paradise’s favorite doctor, Dr. Max. Dr. Max is old school, more Marcus Welby than Gregory House, with maybe a little touch of Hawkeye or Trapper John. He took one look at Gwen’s blood pressure and knew what’d happened.
“Your blood pressure’s too low,” he said. “You probably stood up too quickly in the night and fainted. It’s not uncommon.”
“But my blood pressure’s always been high. I’ve been taking medication for it for years.”
“Time to stop,” Dr. Mack said. “All that work you’ve been doing to make sure you don’t have another stroke has solved your blood pressure problem for you.” He rubbed his forehead thoughtfully. “You might say it made you so well it almost killed you.”
So that’s where we are. Did I mistake my wife’s unconsciousness for something worse? Or did she die a couple of nights ago and then return?
I’ll never know. I don’t think it matters. What I do know, and what does matter, is Gwen survived and is better than ever.
But, Universe—whatever you are—although I appreciate the lesson, next time you want to demonstrate one of the ironies of creation—
Can’t you please do it a little more gently, and make it just a little bit less life or death?