Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In the Blink of an Eye

How often do we race through life so fast, with activities, work demands, and other events, that we don’t enjoy each and every day? Then something happens, something so deep, that it shakes you to the core and helps you to remember how precious each day is. When I was in New York two weeks ago, something just like that happened.

We were on the sidewalk directly across the street from the area of the World Trade Center, when all of a sudden, there was a lot of commotion. Taking a few seconds to try to figure out what was happening….we realized that there was a woman lying on the sidewalk with people all around her. Right behind us there was a group of teenagers sobbing. We quickly learned that the woman on the sidewalk was a beloved choir director from out of town and the kids sobbing were her students who had come to NY to perform that evening at Carnegie Hall. She had suffered from a major heart attack. We found a person who looked to be in charge and asked her how we could help. Splitting up into different groups, we found ourselves sitting and praying with these teenagers. We all felt so helpless as the emergency crews arrived and began trying to save her life.

After she was taken away in the ambulance, we said once last prayer with the group and gave the group leader a hug and then just started walking….stunned by what we had just experienced. Just a block from where we were was St. Paul’s Chapel, the little chapel that stood when the towers came down, without so much as a broken window. We went in, so grateful to have found this little church…..the perfect place to be after watching someone fighting for their life. In this little chapel, there were reminders of all of the people who had come together after 9-11, as well as memorials. We sat there reflecting not only about the woman fighting for her life on the sidewalk, but also about all of the lives lost just across the street from where we were standing.

That evening, not knowing what else we could do, but knowing that we needed to find out how the teacher was doing, I called the police station nearest to where we had been. The officer was so kind and told me that he had just been working on her card. He was able to tell me the hospital where she had been transported. From there, we were able to call the hospital and learned that she had been admitted to a local hospital.....admitted! As I hung up the phone and we all celebrated, because we realized that since she had been admitted…..that meant that she was alive.

Still so much in our thoughts, we learned that last week she had been discharged, and yesterday I wrote her an email just to let her know how much we cared and had prayed for her. I received the most beautiful email back from her today….telling me that her students had performed at Carnegie Hall that evening, with the support and love of all of the chaperones. She began her email - Life is truly amazing and I'm glad I'm still here to enjoy it!

Through all of this….I have thought so much about the fragility of life. What if today was your very last day on earth? How would you spend it? Would you be able to leave this world feeling like you lived it the way you wanted? Or are there things you feel you need to change? I know for me, the experience I had in New York was an important reminder that we need to slow down and enjoy our family and the things that matter. Through the life of this teacher, my own life was impacted as I realized yet again how important every day really is, both to count our blessings but also to try to make a difference. Have you ever had a wake up call such as this one? How did it impact you?

Karen LWB


  1. Karen,

    What a beautiful message!

    I was listening to a book today in my car and the author recommended that we each write our own "last lecture." Your post made me think of it again and actually write it down as something I'd like to work on this week.

    We never know when our lives are going to end, and we should make sure we enjoy every moment of it.


  2. It is so important to absorb these life lessons.

    I try to make it a daily practice to live my life through positivity and love, not always an easy task.

    In the past year I have lost two friends in skiing accidents. If only I took the time to slow down and enjoy them more when they were still alive!

    Thank you for your beautiful post.

  3. G.O.A.L L.I.F.E.
    Go Out And Live Life In Full Expectancy.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful post...

    Each day is a gift, so live it well.

  5. Oh my goodness!!

    Well, if that had been *your* last day, it would have been lived blessing others. I've been in an experience like that before -- terrified as a teenager, not knowing what to do, where to go....and I've had the calm reassurance of someone sitting down and praying with me. Bless you guys for your reaction!

    Right now it feels like my last days will be filled with pooping babies. Even if I'm 99. This pooping will not end. Now I need your reassurance that it DOES. lol

    Mary Morris

  6. I have had an experience that did not frighten me, but had totally the opposite effect. I still struggle to put in words what I saw in the eyes of a boy named Zack-let's just say that the eyes that penitrated my soul were thousands of years old, not the eight that Zack is living now. I have forever been changed-or perhaps more accuratley I have found myself again and didn't even realize how far into being lost I was...gifts that come to you by "chance" meeting are life changing if you are willing to believe in that moment and trust in the possibilities. I wrote about it on my blog-but it is so hard to make it real for others.

  7. Thank you all so much for sharing your comments.... There are times that we just get so complacent and we forget how precious each day is. I love G.O.A.L.L.I.F.E and will remember this, thank you so much for sharing this quick way to always remember the priorities.

    I also love the comment about being found....today is a gift....love it and live it!


  8. Really inspiring and nicely written