Damn. I am still alive! That was one of my first reactions when I opened my eyes in the emergency room of the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.
It was January 2019 and I was finishing a morning jog along the ocean and through the beautiful palm tree lined neighborhoods of Santa Monica. I noticed that I was breathing heavier than normal. The regular finish spot was in sight, across the street from Starbucks. I was considering whether to stop running short of the finish. I next opened my eyes in the emergency room. A good Samaritan must have called 911. I guestimate that I was unconscious for about a half hour.
My proximity to this Starbucks is ironic. Here is where I enjoy my afternoon coffee soaking in the sun and observing young ladies in tight jeans with tiny dogs. Here is where occasional want to be actors meet with perhaps want to be scrip-writers and/or producers. Here is where it is purported that Melissa McCarthy was a barista and regaled customers with her wit and humor. This is no ordinary Starbucks. This is a Super Starbucks!
I have had a full life. With a very loving wife, we have had a large and loving family and many wonderful friends. We have enjoyed outstanding health. We have traveled and experienced much. My bucket list is very short.
Against this background, there is some appeal to the prospect of not having opened my eyes that morning. Think about it. I was jogging; a task I have enjoyed for fifty years. There was no pain. There would be no possible burden to loved ones watching my painful physical and/or mental decline. Equally significant, it would have been poetic if I had taken my last steps across from this Super Starbucks. My demise could not have been better scripted even in this land of make believe.
On the other hand, life is beautiful! I will continue to love and be loved. I will continue to enjoy the beauty of nature, particularly on Cape Cod. I will continue to enjoy music, particularly opera. On second thought in the emergency room, I understood that I had much for which to be grateful that I did open my eyes. It seems that God is not yet done with me.
Epilog: After a month of tests, the cause of fainting has been attributed to my aortic valve. Its opening has been gradually diminishing in size for twenty years. My fainting signaled the need for its replacement. An operation is in the process of being scheduled. Fortunately, the procedure is non-invasive; I will be disabled days, not weeks. But prayers are always welcome.