Thursday, November 3, 2011

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

As is her custom at this time of year, my sister-in-law Joey has been busy constructing a new, incredibly creative, exceedingly bulky, contest-winning costume.  It’s always a treat to see what she will dream up.  How she gets these ideas is beyond me, but I suspect they are often fueled by too little sleep and too much coffee.  I’d been wondering for several weeks what her offering for 2011 might be, but I’ve learned not to ask.  It’s often a secret.  Besides that, I like to be surprised come Halloween night. 
But, the surprise we were handed this Halloween was not about her costume.  Instead, her early morning call last week was about her dear husband Bruce.  It seems that he had returned from a weekend of hunting and went to bed, knowing that he needed to rise early in the morning for work.  But, about two o’clock in the morning, he awoke with tingling arms.  He tried to walk it off and took some aspirin, but he wasn’t any better.  He woke Joey who wisely rushed him to the emergency room at the local Whitefish hospital.  He walked in under his own power, but right there and then on the emergency room table he experienced a full-blown, massive and very terrible heart attack.  To the horror of the attending personnel and his loving wife, his heart stopped beating.  I can only imagine the frantic moments that ensued.  Joey can’t describe it without choking up.  She tries to tell us how the doctor said, “We’re losing him!”  She tries to tell us how the nurse and doctor had to shock his heart back to life.  They attempted once, twice, again, again, and yet again.  Each time his body rising off the table and falling lifelessly back.  Another nurse hugged Joey as they prayed for Bruce.  There’s a limit, you know to the number of times they can do this shock treatment.  There’s a limit to the number of joules of energy a body can stand, a limit to the number of shocks; a limit to the recovery a heart can make.  But, apparently there wasn’t a limit to the number of angels who filled the room as the nurses and doctor worked.  And then, on the sixth try…his heart started beating again.  A frenzied ambulance trip to a hospital in Kalispell ensued and an emergency ‘stent’ placement to free the flow of blood and keep the blood vessel open was performed.  The entire episode was over in an hour…one quick, yet agonizingly slow hour.
Bruce is recovering now.  He doesn’t say much, but his gratitude at this chance to live longer on this earth is evident.  His eyes are a bit softer, his voice is more thoughtful; his hugs a little longer.  He has nothing but praise for those who saved his life, including his wife.

Well, we did go out “Halloweening” with Joey Monday night.  Bruce wasn’t able to come with us, but we celebrated with gusto, partly on his behalf.  I shake my head in wonder as I recall Joey’s costume that she has been constructing for days before Bruce’s heart attack. 
She was a walking box of chocolates.  As she twisted this way and that to show off all sides of her box, she said, “It’s just like Forrest Gump said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.’”

Well, she’s right.  We don’t ever know what life has in store.  It’s always a good reminder that as much as we plan, scheme, dream and cling to our routines, that we don’t really have any idea of what tomorrow will bring, or if, indeed we will have any tomorrows. 
I’m just very grateful and happy to say that our little box of chocolates here in northwest Montana still contains Bruce.  He’s a gentle, loving, talented and loyal soul.  If you don’t know him, you’re missing out.  I’m also grateful that Joey chose him as her particular “sweet” years ago.  It’s pretty obvious that she is still very happy with her choice. 

We are too, Joey.  We are too.

Noel, Joey (she's under me) and me


  1. I was just about to post an email to Joey to ask how Bruce was doing and also if there were pictures of her costume or if she even went out; and lo and behold here was an email from her giving me your blog. It was perfect with the photos and for describing that very eventful night. Thank you. Mary Jo Christiansen

  2. Thank you Shelley, this is a life event we won't forget. Another friend sent me a little “Care Note” from author Carney Strange, and he says “ a heart attack survived is not an end to life, but quite the opposite. It’s a second chance to play again, to live on with the same purpose and intent that formed your life before the event.”