By Stephanie Hodgson
25 Oct

Goodbyes and Halos

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Goodbyes are never easy.

A few months ago, one of my doctors informed me that she would be moving away so that she would be closer to her children and for her own spiritual journey in life. This news came as sort of a shock, only because I had thought I would be the one who would move away first. In fact, I had moved home for a few months to help my mother, but I had plans to move back.

My doctor is so stable that I took for granted that she would never move away. She helped me get stable and taught me how to be calm and breathe in oxygen. She once likened my life to a plate full of marbles—it’s been so unsteady. And, she once told me that my sister and I must have guardian angels as tall as the Empire State Building. She was also one of the main reasons for my moving back.

As the days drew close for us to say our goodbyes, and even though I was so sad and we both cried at times, I feel that goodbyes are a part of life and I will hold on to the memories of our time together that will never leave me.

CHD patients know all too well this hard fact of life. We sense the urgency of life, because we are all aware of the sting of death, usually too early in our lives. When we have gathered together, we never know if it will be the last time we see our friends. I know of three CHD friends, whom I met through ACHA, whom I never saw again after we had said our goodbyes.

So when we do meet, we try not to take things for granted. There may not be a next time to see each other.

Through social media and the new ACHA blog, I’ve been blessed to come to know more CHD friends who share a passion for writing, the arts, and advocacy of ACHA; even though some of us haven’t met in person yet, we hope to meet at one of the conferences or other events. And I can tell not one of them takes a day for granted.

Hearing about Steve Jobs’ death was very heartbreaking for me and most of the world. In a speech he gave to Stanford University, he said:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

I couldn’t help but think, though, that he was too young to die. And, most CHD patients are walking miracles with halos, if we make it to our 30s.

So, when I said goodbye to my doctor I felt very sad. I wanted, I guess, to be in her care until the very end. But sometimes we have to realize that we can carry someone with us whether or not they will be with us in a physical sense.

And don’t they say that when someone leaves your life, someone enters your life?

A couple of weeks after my last appointment with my doctor, someone entered my life: A mother and her teenage daughter, who suffers the exact CHD diagnosis as me. We’ve since connected through the ACHA blog, through emails, and through social media. We plan to meet in person, too. And I know that God has something to do with this connection.

I’m sure as time goes on, “goodbyes and halos” will still be just as hard to accept, but, for now, it’s really good to say hello to new experiences and new friends.


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