I lay on the stretcher, heartbeat fading in and out, the nurses in ER unable to find my pulse. Slipping in and out of consciousness, I was struggling to understand what was happening between being awake and falling back into the blackness that slowly blanketed my vision before fading the world out completely.

The nurse was holding up my head for those few seconds, begging me, “Make any noise to let me know you’re still there Cheryl. Let me know we have you still. Make any noise.”

I groaned because I was determined to still be here after whatever it was that tried to push me back down into that dark pool of unconsciousness. I remember hearing what felt like a chorus of voices talking to one another about how to help, then I heard my partner’s voice and like a lighthouse in a storm it gave me a shore within sight to escape those stormy waters.

Once they moved me onto a stretcher for the rest of the time I spent in ER, I remember being awake and slipping back out of consciousness. Whether it was the painkillers or cardiac shock, I don’t know, but what I do remember is how much longing I felt at the distant fear that I might not come back with one of those slips back into the dark.

Granted, the team of nurses at the hospital never would’ve let that happen, but simultaneously,my brain was unable to comprehend that, and all I was left with was the feeling that I desperately had to hang on because I didn’t know what was happening.

Hospital

Rewind just a moment, to two months earlier.

Another meeting was looming on the horizon and a fear gripped at my chest, not because I was truly afraid, but because part of me knew that my soul was nowhere in it. Sending flares into the ether, my discontent and upset were trying to tell me that I was on thinner ice than I realized.  I wasn’t feeling that innocent joy I was used to and long gone were the times where I saw life through playful eyes. It wasn’t the (at-times) abusive relationships I’d been in over the past two years, nor was it work-related stress, and I knew it wasn’t success unrealized, because as my now partner pointed out jokingly when we first started dating, “You’re the Chairperson of everything…Does it upset you that you can’t be the Chairperson of this Starbucks line?” Point taken.

I remember waking up that final time, with no going back to the black space that tickled at the edges of my vision, and all I could think of was how grateful I was for that fact. I could see the lights through my closed eyelids, listening to the sounds of life around me, grounding me to the place I so wanted to see again.

Doc'sOffice

It felt like an eternity passed, though it was only about five minutes. My life didn’t flash before my eyes, nor did I see white light or meet my spirit guides. All I had was my thoughts and that was enough to wake me up completely. I had more than enough to worry about before going to the hospital, and I made good use of that worry. However, in the quiet where all I could think of was how my tomorrow was no longer promised as I thought, I yearned to have one more chance.

“I hope I get the chance to tell my girlfriend that I love her.

I want my family and friends to know how much I love them. I want to see them again.

I hope I was good.”

Though my life was often characterized by my very busy schedule, those three thoughts were the only thing on my mind.

I realized while being moved into the x-ray waiting room, sleep gripping me after the shock my body went through, that I did it- I was still here. I was exhausted, true, but I could still feel and once I reached for my partner’s hand, feeling her fingers intertwine with mine I knew that I was given a gift.

I remember walking downstairs for water in the morning after I got home from the hospital, Winter’s stone grey skies making the light darker than it seemed at seven o’clock, and I pulled the blinds back. The yard looked as normal as ever, but those hours after I came back from the hospital were filled with anything but ordinary. I finally understood: this is the only life we get.

What was I really doing with mine?

Nothing in this life is guaranteed, and though most of us don’t like to talk about life like that because it scares us to think we’re not in control of what time we have, it’s worth considering how you would do life differently with the understanding that this moment is the only thing we’re promised.

There are no lists or ways to do something that I’m presenting you with in this post, because how you apply this is entirely up to you. All I know for sure is that without the guarantee of tomorrow, today looks much different. I know I said no to working all the time and yes to more time with my phone put away or off. I said yes please, to setting the alarm just a little bit earlier so I could hit snooze and curl up with my cat before the day started. I gave up feeling badly that I said to anyone, “No, you can’t do that because I don’t like it”, and spent more time tracing the outlines of my partner’s face before falling asleep at night. I said no to mediocre relationships and putting up with disrespectful behavior that undermined my self-worth. I said yes to saying exactly what I was feeling, no matter whether I was scared or nervous to do so.

It’s easy to look at our lives and think with a heaviness, of all the things we have to do and where I was used to being so busy that my schedule drowned out the cries of my heart, I forgot that most of them I got to do.

This post is for the things you get to do and life’s lightness because it feels so good to set down tomorrow’s concerns in favor for the present moment. To quote Mary Oliver, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

May that spark of inspiration turn into a brilliant light.

FeelGood

Love, Light and Miracles,

Cheryl Costello

About the Author

Cheryl Costello is the founder of The Finding Hearts Project, also writes for the Brampton Focus and formerly wrote at The Loving Instant. She has also worked with Fortune 500 and Financial Post 500 companies to bring greater attention, awareness and action for LGBTQ+ issues, giving the community a powerful voice. She has conducted workshops for LGBTQ+ students on the power of reclaiming their power through owning the stories they tell and was also a Keynote speaker at a Toronto World Pride event in 2014. If she isn’t writing or organizing in the community, she’s out with her camera, wandering a bookstore or out hiking among trees and water. Have a question you want to see answered on the blog? Stop by her page on Instagram, join in the good vibes and send her a message: @cherylalisoncostello