Monday, June 07, 2010

A Change in Direction

One month ago, I envisioned my life to be quite different from what it is at the moment. It has taken me awhile to even try to put into words all the emotions that have been swirling around in me in the last few weeks. Shock, fear, sorrow, anger, relief, love, acceptance and, finally, peace, has been the progression.

A half year ago I started planning our 40th anniversary vacation to the Bahamas. After copious research and discussion with Georg we settled on which island (Eleuthera) and which house to rent (appropriately enough, "Romantic Bungalow"). Money was sent, a contract was signed and flight tickets were secured. Our good friends Mike and Mary had decided to come along, which made it even better.

At the same time my dream of Broadway tenor Eric Kunze, (for whom I do a fansite and website), coming back to Detroit to perform was coming true. The last time he was here, and the first time I saw him, was two years ago in Whistle Down the Wind. He had been telling me for some time that a concert with the Detroit Symphony was in the offing and, finally, five performances were scheduled for the week of May 22nd. Coincidentally, that was his birthday and he agreed to come to the house for a birthday party in his honor. I could hardly believe that my fantasy of Eric sitting at my piano singing, with me accompanying him, was possibly going to be a reality.

(This is a portrait of Eric in "Whistle Down the Wind")

The planned party unleashed a flurry of home improvements and spruce ups. A new deck was built, touch-up painting done, new shrubs planted, flowers were potted. I pored over stacks of cookbooks to compile the perfect menu. I was making German Chocolate Cake at Eric's request. I already had his birthday present: a portrait I had a relative in Germany do of Eric in Whistle Down the Wind. Thirty of my friends had tickets to the concert on Saturday night and I had arranged a dinner beforehand at the Paradise Cafe at Orchestra hall where Eric was to make an appearance. Even Georg's mother wanted to go to hear Eric sing and I had purchased tickets to take her to a matinee for her birthday present. Fans were flying in from various states to join in the fun. All the pieces were in place for a fantastic week of guests and music.

During our home preparations Georg had been complaining of shortness of breath, symptoms I found out later he had been suffering from for some time. He decided to go to the doctor who ordered a stress test and then a chemical stress test, which precipitated a visit to a cardiologist. The specialist ordered a heart catheterization for Georg the beginning of the week of the Symphony concerts. I blithely assumed this was more or less going to be routine and preventative and when Georg was brought back to recovery quickly I assumed the diagnosis was going to be negative. To my shock the doctor told us he was going to have to do a triple bypass operation the next day.

That statement turned our world upside down. Suddenly, we no longer had thoughts of vacations or parties. Fear crept in as we contemplated the ramifications of such a serious surgery and what was to come afterward. I tried to hide my tears from my husband, because I didn't want to frighten him even more, but even he couldn't disguise his sorrow from me at the turn of events. We were fairly young to be contemplating losing one another, something I didn't think we would be dealing with for another 20 years, at least.

Sorrow gave way ever so briefly to anger at the loss of all the dreams and planning of the last months. I found myself very touchy and was easily irritated by real or imagined slights and hurts from people. But, quickly, anger passed into relief in the realization that had the situation been different, we could have been on vacation in the Bahamas and he might have had a massive heart attack, or somewhere else where skilled medical care might not have been as readily available as right here, right now. We were, after all, in a hospital which had an excellent reputation for its cardiac department and doctors. The success rate for this type of surgery was 97%, odds which were so high as to all but guarantee his recovery.

The first three days after the surgery were extremely difficult for Georg, but the doctors and nurses were very happy with his progress and assured us in a few months he would be back to normal. As I ministered to him in Georg's hospital room and then at home we grew more in love with each other than ever in the realization of what could have been lost and how much we needed one another. Now that we are home,  what surprises me more than anything else is how much we are enjoying just being quietly together. Normal life keeps you running all the time. We now have the luxury of not being able to keep a normal schedule during this recuperation time, of having to say "no" to all the invitations and activities. As a result our home has been very peaceful and quiet with occasional short visits from dear friends who stop in to bring a meal or encouragement.
Finally, we have accepted the place to which God has brought us and are taking it day by day. I am told that someday life will be back to normal, but I think our outlook on life will have been changed forever. My Pollyanna outlook has been somewhat diminished.  We do realize that life is short; that it can be taken away in an instant; that we are fallible and not invicible. We are also again reminded that the Lord's grace will carry us through the most difficult of situations and, no matter what happens, we are never alone because he is there.
I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5