By Vic LorenzoThis article was inspired by a book by Chris Licht, "What I learned when I almost Died", Simon & Schuster, 2011.
The Shock: OMG, my Family Chris Licht was a very ambitious TV Producer. At 35 years old, he was the executive producer of Msnbc's Morning Joe, one of the most poplar shows on cable tv. The bookcover says, "He had become a real-life Jerry Maguire: hard-charging, obsessively competitive, and willing to sacrifice anything to get it done. He felt invincible." Until...one day things suddenly changed.
One day he heard a pop in his head, followed by a whoosh of blood and crippling pain. He had suffered a near-deadly brain hemorrhage.
OMG, these events may, God forbid, happen to us, perhaps, in a different manner. But the same experience. When my Canadian Ortho said that, "I don't want to be a bearer of bad news but your ankle is dislocated again. We have to operate soonest." I could hear the words but it was like Pacquiao hitting you straight at your face. Oh my gosh. Not again. What if something happens to me and what happens to my family.
At that stage, you don't think about career, nor money. These become secondary to what you have to go through and what you remember most is your immediate family. I remember my son, Martin, who shared that when he was shot in a road rage, what kept him going to drive himself to the hospital and to go through two operations and subsequent recovery was the thought about his wife and two young children, the youngest being few weeks old. Career and money take a back seat. You just want to survive and be with your family.
They say that because of the shock of the event, you may not remember the details of the first few hours after the event. Chris Licht doesn't remember too much of the various doctors and the tests he went through except for the angiograms. He simply remembers that he wanted to survive to see and be with his family.
Grateful As you continue to improve, what you remember most is to be grateful that you have survived and to the people who matter most in your life, especially those who helped you go through the crisis. Chris was most grateful to his wife who had to commute from another city to see him in the emergency room and manage the household of two young kids and be in a job transition. He was also grateful to his Dad, a doctor, who seriously got to know about his situation and translated the medical terms into simple language. His dad wasn't very expressive but it was during this time that Chris felt his love and concern. Chris was also very grateful to Vice President Biden who interceded and called the best surgeon in town. Biden took time to call his wife, too.
Change in Priorities One begins to realize our sins of omission, things that we should have done and did not do. In moments like these, one doesn't remember juicy fruit gum, but remember our values and relationships. Chris wasn't too much concerned that he may lose his job because of his absence. He was more concerned that he hasn't spent more quality time with his family.
When we got back to his job as executive producer, he no longer monopolized the postmortem discussions because "I don't need to have my finger in every pie all the time. My decisions come easier now and they're clearer. I don't pick fights anymore, which doesn't mean I run from them. But I don't seek out conflict to prove I'm The Man." Our attitudes in life can change for the better.
There are people who grow old without changing gears or priorities. They still spend endless time making more money or feeling the importance of one's position. Grandchildren have grown up without the benefit of 'time' spent with grandpa. It may seem to be a repeat cycle of what happened with the children. We need to break this cycle fast and reorient our priorities before its too late.
Henri Nouwen reminds us that when Success is no longer focused on the challenge of what we do but on who we are (our identity), then Success can begin to become a problem.
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-- comes not from the Father but from the world." 1Jn2:15-16
The Good News Each day and event is an opportunity to re-orient our lives to what matters most. We are reminded of the son who squandered his inheritance. "He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity, and he ran, threw his arms round his son, and kissed him. 'Father,' the son said, 'I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.' but the father called his servants, 'Hurry' he said. 'Bring the best robe and put it on him. Out a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Then go and get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast! For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found. And so the feasting began." Lk15:11-12
Let the feast begin! May you be blessed with His joy and peace!
Vic Lorenzo Vancouver Sept. 5, 2012