Advent 2: Love – Dan Sadowski
The chest pains started part way through Lagrima. Sooner or later, every student of classical guitar learns this beautiful prelude by Francisco Tárrega. The title in Spanish means Tears. I had returned to my guitar after many years of neglect, mostly as a way to help cope with my wife Heather’s recent diagnosis of advanced cancer. I had a lesson with my instructor the next day and was determined to show him some progress in my playing. But the pain in my chest would not go away. I thought perhaps I was holding the instrument funny and readjusted my position…worse. I took a few Tums….now I felt short of breath. Perhaps I should do something about it….
The events over the next few hours are a blur for me now but some of the things that I vividly remember are:
- Driving in the car to the hospital and running a red light at Fox Drive (“No Heather, we don’t need an ambulance, I think it is just bad heartburn..”)
- Wondering how I could convince the triage nurse in ER that I knew what I was talking about…. this is classic gastroesophageal reflux disease!
- Seeing the abnormal ECG and experiencing the dawning realization that I was actually having a heart attack
- Feeling the sting in my pride. Of all the things that could happen to me medically, I was convinced that heart disease was not one of them. I was diligent in my physical fitness and had none of the usually risk factors for angina (apart from a tiny amount of stress…)
Looking back on this now, I can see the obvious pattern of denial in my thinking. It took a heart attack for me to realize that denial was actually a big part of my coping strategy at that particular point in my life. For example, I was convinced that I needed to be the strong one, both for my wife and my family. I needed to be organized, clear headed and logical. The last thing my family needed was an emotional wet noodle…or so I thought.
In hindsight, I needed something dramatic to bring me to attention and snap me out of my tunnel vision. Sometimes God’s love comes to us like that – more like a stiff cuff on the side of the head rather than a sloppy wet kiss. Perhaps God was saying to me… give yourself permission to cry a few tears, rather than just playing a song about them…..