Celebrating Life | One Year After My Husbands Heart Attack

The wedding ceremony is a testimony of two people in love. I want to share my testimony with you in the form of a letter I wrote to my husband of 36 years celebrating his life a year after his heart attack.

Today I am celebrating your life, the man of my dreams, one year after your heart attack.

As I reflect through that year and all the struggles we have faced during your recovery, I am in awe and wonder seeing the grace that God bestowed on us. We have had to learn to trust God and his plan for our lives. We walked through the challenges that each day brought, with confidence, trusting that God loves us more than we could ask or even imagine.

This is how it all began: Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on great, tragic days in history. Likewise, I will forever remember the day you had your heart attack. I can play it over and over again in my mind. I remember you could not sleep the night before and asked me to get you some Tums. I failed to get them because I was too tired. You were not feeling well and couldn't sleep, so you got out of bed. Later in the day, you called me to tell me how much you have loved me, how you could never imagine life without me, and what an amazing woman I am. I loved that. But my reaction was, "you better not die on me!"

That day I was with a bride doing a trial hairstyle for her wedding. She had come all the way from Virginia to meet me and the makeup artist. I feel that I will be connected to those ladies, Sarah and Pam, forever. Because of what happened next.

Our daughter Julia called me from the hospital and matter of factly asked, “Guess where we are mom?”, to which I replied, “I don't know, where?” When she told me she was in the ER with you and the doctor thought you might be having a heart attack, I immediately got mad and said it was not funny at all. I demanded that she put you on the phone so I could hear your voice.  She gave me some sort of excuse that got me even more aggravated and I raised my voice and commanded, “PUT YO FATHER ON THE PHONE RIGHT NOW!" By the time you got on the phone, I was hysterical and told you I wasn't playing games (you being the prankster that you are). Also, I did not find this amusing and asked if she was telling the truth. You confirmed with a "yes, I am in the ER and they do think I might be having a heart attack.”

Just hearing your calm and soothing voice helped me relax and trust that you would be alright. You then told me not to rush because you would be transported to another hospital for further testing. Since you sounded okay and told me not to rush, I continued to finish the trial run with the bride—seeing that she drove all that way and booked a hotel room, just for this appointment. Little did I know that as soon as you hung up the phone with me, you would go into cardiac arrest and they would have to use the defibrillator FOUR times. I guess talking to me did not have that same calming effect... :)   

I got to the hospital about an hour and a half after the phone call, the whole time I had thought you were only brought here for observation. I figured you were checked in, settled, and comfortably resting.  Never did I even consider that you would have had a heart attack, and never mind anything more serious as surgery.

When I arrived, I went to the ER, not thinking they brought you to the main section of the hospital. I asked at the desk if you had arrived yet but they couldn't find your name. They questioned if this was the hospital that they would have taken you. They suggested I sit down and they would call me when you arrived. I waited about 15 minutes and asked again. Your name wasn't there. I continued waiting, and again they couldn't find your name. They assured me they would let me know as soon as you arrived. I finally could not take it any longer and went back up to the desk explained the whole story. It wasn't until then that they checked to see if you were in the main part of the hospital. When the receptionist got off the phone she told me to go to the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit (ICCU) and the doctor would speak to me there. This is when I started to panic. My mind immediately went from thinking everything was alright to; “WAIT! WHAT?! THE ICCU?! THE “DOCTOR” WOULD SPEAK TO ME?! WHY NOT MY HUSBAND?! WHERE WERE YOU?! WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO YOU?!”

The ICCU was on the other side of the hospital and I was, at this point, in no shape to drive. Thankfully, my pastor showed up, so I handed him my keys.

In the short time, it took to get to the other part of the building, which seemed like an eternity, my mind was out of control with all sorts of crazy questions I asked myself over and over again, “OH! MY DEAR GOD!! What is going on? Where is my husband? Is he OK?  Is he even alive? Why would the doctor have to come and talk to me? Why can't I see my husband?”

Great joy and relief swept over me at the sight of you when I walked in the ICCU. You were just coming out of surgery. I still had no idea of what happened from the time I heard your voice up until that moment. I ran and kissed you, and it was then that I finally found out what had happened during those last few hours. (By the way, he had two blocked arteries that were corrected with stents.) 

Little did I know it would be a long, rough road ahead. What a road! We might not have liked what we were asked to face, but nevertheless, we have walked boldly, with confidence, holding on for dear life, to our faith and our loved ones for strength. When we felt weak and thought we could no longer go on, God reminded us that we were surrounded by those who knew and loved us and who were praying when we felt helpless. Their kindness and compassion comforted us and when we needed it, they brought us back into the focus of what God had already done and was continuing to do. That motivated us to continue to fight through the  discouraging trails that awaited us     

This year has made us face so many realities that we were not willing to see before the heart attack. Realities that were ugly and painful but needed to be corrected. Changes that now allowed us to look forward with hope and grace for our future. There were days of fear, anxiety, doubt, loneliness, and stress. At times hope no longer seemed possible. There was fear of the future; the anxiety of the "what if" or "what will I do"? The stress of how will we ever make it? or how it can possibly get better? Even, "What did we do that was so bad to be in this time and place in our lives?"

One year has passed and we have made it through, because of God.

These are some of the things God showed us and is continuing to show us as he pours out his love through his scripture. 

With God all things are possible.
Those that wait upon the Lord will have their strength renewed.
God corrects those he loves.
We need to keep our eyes fixed on the mark he set before us.
To run the race with endurance.
Not to get weary in well doing.
If God is for us who can be against us?
If God loves the birds of the field and clothes them with splendor how much more does he love us? 
To trust in the Lord with all our heart; leaning not on your own understanding, with all our heart acknowledge him, and he will direct our path.

All I can say is that I am forever grateful for the last 33 years, with all the love, joy, happiness, passion, struggles, fights, disappointments, failures, life, death, and everything else a family life can throw at us, to have shared it with my most beloved husband. I pray to God that we can continue to grow old and live a happily ever after together. May God be glorified in all that we do together as we live and love and share this time on earth. 

My love for you grows stronger every day, Liz <3

Marriage is a commitment.
: a promise to do or give something
: a promise to be loyal to someone or something
: the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something
synonyms: dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity
synonyms: responsibility, obligation, duty, tie, liabilitytaskengagement, arrangement

I made a commitment to my husband 33 yrs ago. I work very hard to honor that commitment every day of my married life. Believe me when I say, it wasn't always easy but I am glad I did. It is worth the struggles, pain and heart ache. I could never imagine life any other way, nor would I want to.  My love for my husband only grew stronger with each new challenge we faced together.

After all the planning and celebrating and everyone goes home, and you come back from your fairy tale honeymoon, life it left waiting for you. It might hit you in the face and it might hit hard. Hold on tight to your commitment, hold on tight to that love and passion you shared. Keep it close to your heart and remember when you face these new challenges and struggles, your love can only grow stronger.

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Liz Perniciaro :)

Posted on April 4, 2014 .