“There’s a really brief period, maybe 30 seconds total, before you go under. I spend that time thinking of the happiest times in my life.”
It was Saturday night and I was visiting my friend Brian in the hospital. I was going through a difficult breakup and he was getting ready for another surgery. He was explaining the 30 seconds between getting anesthesia and actually succumbing to the medicinal sleep.
“There’s always a chance I won’t wake up,” he explained, “so I try to make myself go out on the happiest, highest note possible.”
Our conversation continued with me reflecting on what happiness means and the sacrifices I had recently made to make my relationship work. Brian was abnormally upbeat and talkative—outside of the hospital he likes to be morose and somber, which is part of the reason we are best friends.
To this observation of mine, he mused, “Don’t tell anyone that I’m different and happy in here, but in this bed, life is what you make it. You get treated better if you’re kind to the nurses and it’s proven that I’ll heal quicker if I’m positive.”
Our outlook on an experience can shape that event. While we all go through tough times and good times, staying upbeat and moving forward can ultimately impact the whole ordeal.
That night, and the conversation we had, was a turning point in my own turmoil from the breakup. I left feeling like that time with Brian was deeper and more raw than anything I’d shared with anyone previously. In this modern, social networking world, we forget that a simple heart-to-heart with another human being can free us, even fleetingly, from our own struggle.
Brian has not had the easiest few years, but here he was in his hospital bed listening to my angst and giving me the feedback and encouragement I needed to begin the healing process. Friends like that are few and far between.
The next day, I was walking my dog and reflecting on Brian’s words. How many people would include me in their 30 second montage? What was included in mine? Am I using each day to positively impact those I interact with? How have I been presenting myself as I sulk through this ordeal.
But most importantly, have I been giving myself the love and attention I need to heal?
One point that Brian and I had not discussed was the essential human element: hope. My uncle used to tell me that when you take away someone’s hope, you take away their life. After months of forgetting about that statement, it came back to me, hauntingly. Hope ties the child playing baseball in the poor part of town to the budding entrepreneur working on his ideas in his garage to the single mother, working three jobs to raise her children.
Hope ties all of humanity together, it keeps us striving for improvement, solutions, and the next day. Hope keeps Brian upbeat and able to endure surgery after surgery. Hope keeps us trying to find love over and over.
And I hope that when the time comes, my last 30 seconds will be filled with wonderful memories, invaluable friendships, and the underlying knowledge that I could not have lived a more fulfilled life.
Author: Lauren Shaffer
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Travis May