The incoming call on my cell read "Blocked." I answered it reluctantly, partially because I was driving and partially because I didn't feel like being bothered with a nonsense call. But curiosity availed and I answered.
"Is this Diane Ramirez?"
"Yes, whose calling?"
"This is the Atascadero Police Department . . ."
Hmm, why are they calling me? I was certain I had no warrants out for my arrest.
" . . . Your husband is being taken to Twin Cities Hospital by ambulance, you should meet him there."
Did I hear her right? My mind whirled, why would he be going to the emergency room? What could have happened between him moving his mother and me grocery shopping and our recent phone conversation. "I just passed the Hospital . . .," I said, wondering how serious could this be, "and I have a car full of groceries."
"When your husband stood for the paramedics his heart rate went down to 20, if I were you, I'd forget about the groceries and head back toward the hospital."
In that moment my world was begging to breath. Okay Diane stay calm. My mind quickly went through people I should call, and those that I shouldn't bring worry to until I knew more.
It's amazing what stress can do, numbers I knew suddenly wiped clean from my memory. And those I fumbled over went right to messages. Oh my God, no one is answering. I felt alone!
Was this really happening? The reality that my husband of 35 plus years was having a possible heart attack seemed surreal. His father died at the age of 54 from a heart attack. He is 55; he's led a different life from his father, it can't be. We have so much to work through and so many things to do. Life's just beginning for us.
I entered the Hospital fighting back tears of terror. Stay calm Diane; stay calm until you know what is really happening, that's what James would do‚ get the facts. I approached the register window, "I received a call from the Atascadero PD they said my husband is arriving here by ambulance, possible heart attack, his heart dropped to 20."
The women looked at a monitor from behind the counter and gave me a puzzled looked, "Are you sure it wasn't French? We don't have your husband's name in our system."
Panic! "No, I'm sure it was this hospital." Oh my God, what if it is French and I can't get there in time . . . in time for what? To say goodbye? No, don't go there. The lump in my throat slid to my stomach.
"Let me check." She left then returned. "Oh yes he is on his way here. Just have a seat and we'll call you when he arrives."
Have a seat! I paced in and out of the sliding doors, keeping watch for the ambulance. What's taking them so long? Again I scrolled through my contacts seeking the right people to call. To help me do something. Something, because I didn't know what to do but wait . . . wait for whatever kind of news would plummet my heart and I didn't want to be alone. How would I handle it if it were awful news? No, don't go there.
The lines of help broke through; my friend answered and said she'd be right there. Another returned my call and got the prayer chain and pastor on the move and another left a message, another texted we're praying. Thank goodness for friends. I wasn't alone anymore.
"Oh Lord, have mercy. Mercy Lord, mercy."
The double door between the waiting room and the place were good and bad news awaits, swung open and a smiling nurse assured me it's not as bad as it sounds. She hugged me. But tears still streamed down my face and my heart raced with uncertainty. What if she's not right? All I could think of was his dad who was given the sign of good health, in a hospital, then died that very morning.
The ambulance arrived and I anticipated seeing him. Entering his cubicle, his smile and his humor spilled through. My heart was overcome with relief, especially upon hearing no heart attack—maybe overworked, overheated, and dehydrated. And then the support of people who came by doubled my relief.
I must be frank that upon hearing he was out of danger, my wifely instincts wanted to slap him silly, of course in the most loving way, and say see I told you so—you always have to do one more thing and look at the scare you gave me.
Of all the trials and tribulations I've experienced, this one by far, hit to the core of my existence. Losing my partner, my spouse, my lover, my friend would be more then I could bear. My heart always weeps when I hear of young people and life long couples losing their spouse and those struggling with serious ongoing illnesses. Certainly we overlook that little phrase in our marriage vows, "Till death do us part." Somehow it just is not going to happen to us, not now.
Earlier this week this scripture filtered through my thoughts several times, "I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth," (Psalm 121:1, 2).
I rejoice this week that no matter what happens or happened . . . the Spirit of God was gracious to remind me, ahead of time, that my help is always ever so close, even when it seems no one is available—He is. And that helper is not just anybody but it is the LORD, Yahweh the God Almighty. He is my help, the one who is the Maker of heaven and earth.
Life can change in a heartbeat. I'm grateful for prayer, friends, and the God who is " . . . our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble," (Psalm 46:1).
And in case your wondering, the bags of groceries where taken home by a friend's husband and even put away! What a blessing.