Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think

I’m sitting by a large open window, wiping sweat off my face. The heat is unbearable. I know it’s hot in the UK too, but German heat is drier and stronger somehow. I don’t remember when I was in +35C heat last. My teaching week here is coming to an end, and this is the first time I have a chance to have had a proper conversation with my husband.

‘I’ve got something to tell you,’ he says.

My guts clench in response. It’s not what he said, it’s the worry in his voice.
Something’s wrong with the kids. Which one? Something has gone terribly wrong…. Thoughts are flying in my head, but I’m unable to say a word. My throat feels dry and tight now.

‘I’ve been to see a doctor yesterday. She said I might have angina.’

‘You have what?!’ For a moment, I even thought I heard a word rhyming with angina. If it wasn’t for his tone, I’d think he was joking.

‘It’s a heart condition. I’ve been feeling rough this week,’ he says. ‘I finally went to see a doctor yesterday.’

Tears spring to my eyes. Perhaps it was the heat wave. He’s not very good with heat. Heart condition? I know he always said that men in his family have heart attacks around his age, but he’s so well normally. Healthier than I am in some ways, despite our age gap.
Shaken, I stare out of the window for a few minutes, before the door opens and my German colleagues suggest we have lunch together. I share my news, and they seem kind and understanding.

‘Do you want to return home straightaway?’

‘There’s not much I can do right now. He’s got a hospital referral on 3 July.’

I returned home that weekend for a day, and my husband seemed a bit grey but fairly functional. I had another two trips ahead of me so there wasn’t much time to relax.
It was only a week later, I was finally home from teaching in Brussels and Luxembourg.

The day I returned home, we went to a music festival at a nearby park and my husband was levitating for an hour dancing to the good beats of live music. The next day was even better: we did an amazing voice workshop with a teacher from NY. Inspired and relaxed, I felt like life was getting back to normal.

The next day, we headed for his hospital appointment. It’s been nearly two weeks since he felt rough, so in all honesty, I wasn’t worried at all. What could possibly go wrong? I even booked myself into a yoga class at 1pm thinking his 9:30am appointment would finish in an hour or two.

So when a lovely nurse said that my husband had a heart attack two weeks ago, we were in a state of shock. She strongly advised for an emergency procedure, something my husband hesitated to undergo. When they wheeled him to his hospital bed, he protested vehemently:

‘I’m well! I was dancing on Saturday and I jumped off my son’s bunk bed this morning. I can walk myself.’

IMG_5737They operated on him on the same day, fitted two stents into his right coronary artery, which was apparently 95-99% blocked. He’s been recovering well, but this experience has been a major wake up call.

We are mortal, we know that. And yet the tendency is to live as if we have an eternity ahead of us. We postpone things which matter to us. We delay writing that book, meeting that friend, taking a better care of ourselves… The list goes on.

My husband often refers to Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, one of the people who greatly inspired him at the beginning of his healing journey. She ran workshops on ‘Life, Death and Transition’, which included using the prospect of death to inspire us to live more fully. ‘A Year To Live’ by Stephen Levine points in the same direction.

“If not for death, would we appreciate life? If not for hate, would we know the ultimate goal is love? At these moments you can either hold on to negativity and look for blame, or you can choose to heal and keep on loving.” Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (The Wheel of Life, 1997)

I want to complete this post with an inspiring TED talk by Linda Sivertsen. She speaks of her experience of being a time debter. If you’ve been postponing life until further notice, this is worth watching.

What do you always want to do in life but never have time for? What is it you want to be remembered for? It’s worth acting on it now.

Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think [Song covered by many musicians, including Prince Buster, Jools Holland and The Specials.]

21 thoughts on “Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think

  1. Oh Gulara, what a stressful time you and your husband have been through. I’m so glad to hear your husband is doing well now.
    When I first read the title of this post, I didn’t understand what it meant. Reading on, I realised your message – and what an important message it is. Thank you for the reminder.
    Very best wishes to you and your husband.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Firstly, I’ll say, Oh my word, how frightened you must have been. And secondly, I’ll say, Thank you for sharing this experience with us. It’s a wake-up call for us all.
    I hope your husband’s health is restored, but tell him not to jump off bunk beds as that has its own health risks! 😉 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and connecting Louise. Strangely I’m sitting in A&E (it’s after 2am!) with a chest pain! They’ve done every test under the sun, so hopefully will rule out anything heart-related. But this is definitely a loud and clear wake up call.
      I passed your message about bunk beds to my husband 😊 Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gulara! So excited you are back 🙂 No, not happy with the news about your husband either and I am too relieved he is doing better. Both my husband and I worked in the past for a multi-national who created those stents; good to read it could help your hubby too.
    And yes, your message is so accurate and I know you both didn’t really need an awful event to happen to be reminded of that. So thank you for sharing your personal story to remind each one of us, of this important fact.
    Sending you both lots of healing energy and enormous hugs and love. XxX

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Gulara, what a busy and frightening time you have had. I hope your husband’s surgery has given him a whole new life to enjoy with you and the children. What a scary turn of events. I haven’t yet listened to Silverstein’s talk, but as each day passes I appreciate more each day and realise the fleetness of time’s passing. I wish you, your hub, and your family many wonderful long years together.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Gulara, pew, I am glad that things went well.
    Many hugs and do make the most of the time you have together, just the two of you, as I guess the kids are taking up much of your together time 🙂
    I wish him a good recovery!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh gosh, Gulara! That must have been quite a time. I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d rather keep the status quo and be the one sick all the time that hubby because I really would be pretty useless. I’m glad it’s fine now.
    It’s very true: we can’t think we’re going to live forever or even for long. I do believe in living life to the fullest. Time will not wait for us.
    I wish you, your husband and kids a life where every day is the best day lived. Much love and hugs. 💖🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Gulara. I’ve only just read this. What a terrible shock for you both – and in the middle of your busiest time, too. I hope your husband’s well now. Events like this really do remind us of our mortality.
    I’d like to come to your workshop in B’ham. but I gather places are limited. I’ll speak to Jonathan about booking a place. Warm wishes to you and yours. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jeff, thank you so much for your kind message. It’s lovely to hear from you. My husband is recovering well. I’d love to see you at the workshop. If not, I’m going to run some workshops in November. You are warmly welcome to attend. Hope all is well with you and the family. Let me know when you are in town. It’d be lovely to catch up over a cuppa.

      Like

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