Below is a Christmas letter that I sent along with my Christmas cards in 2010.
The holidays can be difficult for many. Hopefully this will lift your spirits.
It feels like yesterday that I got married and started a family and now my boys are 23 and 21! In my heart I still feel like the young woman I was but everything else is telling me differently. This year has been both a joy and a challenge, a downer and a blessing. Let me explain.
For those of you who know us best, you know we are pretty laid back and live a pretty simple life. Our dreams consist of wanting our boys to grow up and be happy. We pray that our family, friends and extended family members are blessed with good health and happiness. That is and has been our main focus in life - making sure everyone is doing well. That focus hit home this past September. The result has been for my family and I to seriously take a look at how precious life is and to thank God for each day we awake to face and enjoy another day - whatever it may bring!
You see, September 18th I got up, made breakfast, got dressed and spent the morning putting a coat of enamel on bathroom shelves. My husband and youngest son headed out to enjoy a Michigan football game. My oldest son, Matt and I stayed home. After finishing the shelves I came inside and sat down at my computer to finish a client job and suddenly experienced the most massive headache I have ever had. It was paralyzing and extremely nauseating. I felt as if I would pass out from the pain. I called for Matt and asked him to get me some Tylenol and my heating pad. I thought I was having a migraine.
About 5 minutes passed and nothing subsided. In fact, it only got worse! Then I began experiencing right forearm pain and cramping. I didn't feel well at all so I told Matt to call 911. The ambulance came and I began to get diaphoretic and short of breath. The ambulance took me in; by the time I got to ER I found out I was in the midst of a heart attack. I was immediately sent up to the cath lab and had a stent implanted. I was very fortunate - the main right coronary artery was 100% blocked - Matt called 911 just in time and the doctor just happened to be in the cath lab for a previous procedure.
While in the hospital I learned I was diabetic, I have coronary artery disease and that I had another artery blockage of 70% that the doctors planned to "keep an eye on". Since the stent, I have been eating healthier, exercising regularly, and minding my p’s and q’s. I was attending cardiac rehab sessions and diabetic classes too.
Then came December 2. I went to cardiac rehab classes and was attending an educational session and suddenly experienced tooth and jaw pain (it felt like a nerve had suddenly become exposed). I Ieft class and went to tell the nurses I might not be able to exercise because of the pain level. Turns out it was angina, and to make a long story short, I took another ride by ambulance to ER, was admitted and soon ended up in cath lab again for yet another stent. The 70% artery blockage advanced to an 80% blockage in 2 months all while I was eating right, exercising and taking medications! This has been a frightening experience for my husband, my boys and myself and something I would have preferred not to have put them or myself through. But, all we can do is deal with it and move forward from here.
What plan may be in store for us each day may remain elusive for all of our lives only to be revealed in the hereafter. What I do know is my heart attack and subsequent issues have been a rude awakening but an awakening none the less. It is ‘oh so easy’ to take life for granted and to go through a day being less mindful than what we should about what really matters in life. Take time to give thanks to God - hug your spouse, kiss your kids, get together with a friend, and tell your family you love them. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive and forget. Accept others for who they are and leave the judging to Someone more capable of holding the position. Most importantly, spend time taking care of yourself!
If you do, chances are something wonderful, something blessed and something to be cherished may be heading your way. It may be a simple smile, a heartfelt hug or words of encouragement from another. Nothing earth shattering - just the important stuff!
We have had a tradition in our household since the boys were very young. If any of us are ever too far away to hug or kiss or we are in the middle of something and just can’t get away...we still blow kisses and say I love you. If one of us happens to be on the receiving end... the receiver's job is to catch the kisses and respond with "I love you back."
And so for the holidays this year and all year long, we blow kisses your way and send a shout out letting you know we love you! Catching at your end is required!
God bless you!