Miracle #1

I was going to get a dog. I’m a cat person, but I was going to get a dog. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that I would name Jaime Sommers, after the bionic woman. I had it all planned out. I figured, I’m single, I have time on my hands, and we would be happy together.

“Why don’t you try to get a boyfriend first,” said Amber.
“I don’t care about a boyfriend and besides, I don’t have time for both. I’m going to get a dog.”
“You don’t even like dogs.”
“I like this kind! Those eyes! And the dangly ears!”
“I know you think online dating is for pathetic losers, but why not just try it. Try it for six months and see what happens. And then you can get a dog.”
“I’ll think about it.”

I thought about it. I was 39 and needed to do something. It now appeared I had two options: I could get a dog, or a boyfriend. Hell, they are probably an equal amount of work. As if the decision were made for me, I got an email from Julie about her cat. I had met him a couple times before and thought he was one of the most striking cats I had ever seen. He is bigger than a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the softest multi-colored hair – cream with patches of grey and tan – and piercing light blue eyes. His disposition is sweet, gentle and cuddly. And he is friendly and social and loves everyone. But he has a dark side.

He was an indoor/outdoor cat in Minnesota and when outdoors, he was the neighborhood bully. It was so bad that the neighbors had an intervention with Julie and her family and the cat had to go. She was looking into various shelters for him when I caught wind of it.

“I’ll take him.” I said out loud, without giving it any thought, but instantly knowing it was the right decision.
“Yes, I will take him.”

And so it was that I was on a plane with a 15-pound cat as my carry-on, bringing him back to Seattle with me so he could start over as an indoor cuddle bully. And with that, my two options at age 39 had dwindled to one. Begrudgingly I decided to join the ranks of online daters.

I joined eHarmony about two weeks shy of my 40th birthday. I thought I had pulled a fast one by doing it this way, only to find that my age automatically changed to 40 on my birthday. Dammit, why did I give them my date of birth? I searched my hazy memory of that night when I drank copious amounts of wine and filled out the 1000-question application, but could not come up with a memory of a single question I answered. I figured my state of mind should we as wine-fueled while I signed up as it would be on any subsequent date that resulted.

I joined in early April and was matched on June 18 to my now husband. Our first date was July 8 and by January we were engaged. No one was more surprised by this than me.

But I still think about Jaime Sommers sometimes.

I got the call at work. It was the first and only time my sister-in-law ever called me, so I’m not sure what shocked me more at the time. The whole thing felt like a dream. I couldn’t quite grasp that she was calling me, especially at work. She said “Your brother collapsed and is in the hospital.” OK, that doesn’t sound too bad, I thought. I couldn’t get my head around it. “I think you should come.” She said. “Your parents are on their way now.”

Really? I thought she would tell me she would let me know once she had more information, and I would go back to work. Collapsed. That isn’t serious. IS IT? A person can collapse and then get right back up again. Then she broke down and handed the phone to their neighbor who had brought her to the hospital. He was a former EMT who, I would find out later, performed CPR on my brother until the paramedics arrived. I would also find out that they cooled his body in the field – en route to the hospital – another sign of the seriousness of what had happened, and also a technique that most likely saved his life. But I didn’t get any of this from that phone call. The neighbor reiterated – “You need to come.”

I went home. I called my fiancé from the car and that’s when the tears came. I left a completely unintelligible message on his voice mail. He called back the moment he got it.

“I don’t know anything,” I sobbed, “except that I need to book a flight now and you need to come with me.”
“Of course,” he said.

My brother was technically dead for more than two minutes on the way to the hospital. He was in a coma for four days and the CICU for a week. He now has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator and a pace-maker. He was only 42 years old, the picture of health, and there is no family history of heart disease. An arrhythmia stemming from a rare genetic disease called Brugada syndrome had caused the collapse. Brugada syndrome leads to an increased risk of sudden cardiac death and is the major cause of sudden unexplained death syndrome (SUDS). The survival rate is less than two percent.

It’s a miracle!
My mom writes a classic annual Christmas letter called the “Fields Flyer.” This year the headline read, “Year of Miracles for the Fields’ Family!” and then there were two side-by-side columns titled: Miracle #1 and Miracle #2.

I got top billing.

“Amy is getting married!!!” it read under Miracle #1. “Denny and I have waited 41 years for this to happen and we were about to give up when she surprised us with her great news!”

Not only was my brother’s actual miracle of coming back to life reduced to “Miracle #2;” she wrote that he simply “encountered a heart rhythm problem.” When I asked my mom why Eric didn’t get top billing, she replied, “it was chronological.”

I got engaged in January and he “died” in March.

I’m lying in a king-size bed but can’t move. My husband is sprawled out on one side of me, and together we are sharing one half of the bed. The other half is taken up by our 15-pound cuddle bully. I slowly awake and wriggle my fingers to bring blood flow to the arm that has fallen asleep. I feel cozy and comforted by the love surrounding me.

Maybe Mom was right.

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1 Comment

  1. *sniff*



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