How To Save A Life  

Posted by Heidi in

This splendid post was written by Laura, also known as LexiconLuvr (and boy is she ever)/L.T. Elliot of Dreams of Quill and Ink . I have been reading Laura long enough to know she is an incredible architect of words, laboring over each, twisting and turning them this way and that until she has a piece that fits just so. I've also learned that she is generous, warm-hearted and she calls me "Heids" which I find I quite like. She is an aspiring novelist, one which I'm sure will find great success someday. Be sure to check her out at Dreams of Quill and Ink.

When I was younger, I got engaged to a boy I hardly knew. The relationship wasn’t healthy on a variety of levels. Thanks to a mulishness of both age and personal character flaws, I refused to call it off even when warned by family members and friends. In about a year, I’d isolated myself from all of them (save the not-so-great fiancé.) Stubborn streak aside, I bear an enormous resemblance to a certain lion that trafficked with red-shoe-wearing gals, a walking hay bale, and a dude made of metal. Though I was a few decades late for that audition, I’m a shoe in when they produce a re-make.

Point being, I was too afraid to call it off. I’d gotten myself into this mess, pushed away life-long friends and my beloved family and wore the proof on my lil’ sausage finger. I didn’t know how to back out even though I desperately wanted to. I’d turned my back on my family, friends, religion, and way of life. How could I ask for help and bear the shame?

One day, I got a phone call—the first from my family in months. My grandfather was in the hospital. He’d gone to flip the light switch and couldn’t do it. A brain tumor; inoperable. Two weeks from the discovery of this terrible tumor, he was bedridden, his hands tied to the bedrails to keep from hurting himself. Not long after that, he fell into a coma. The doctors were warning us that he didn’t have much time. “Come to the hospital. Now.”

The fiancé refused to take me so I called up my best friend and hoped he’d take pity enough on me to grant me this favor, even though he’d been shunned in the great-fiancé-fallout. He agreed and I offered up one of the first prayers I’d uttered in weeks. The waiting room was small, packed with my cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, and parents. Each family was being given a few solitary moments to speak to my grandfather while the rest of us waited our turn. I held my best friend’s hand, terrified to be in the same room with people I’d known for the whole of my life. No one spoke to me and I didn’t try to change that. My parents were busy dashing to and from my grandfather’s room, consoling grieving children and burying their own. I kept my distance.

Too soon, it was our family’s turn. My friend stayed behind, offering me a shaky smile. We crowded into a tiny darkened room. The monitors were silent, emerald pulses of light splaying over the floor and the cutting, pungent scent of disinfectant barely masking dying cells and fragility. There were perhaps four chairs, reserved for my mother and elder sisters. We barely fit. I stood alone in the far left corner, a place I’d chosen.

No one spoke. Tears rolled down drawn faces, sniffles interspersing small hiccoughing sobs from men and women alike. I don’t remember if I shed tears, though I knew they danced in my vision.

For the first time in months I was in the same room with siblings and parents I loved. I was with them but not a part of them. They clung to one another, heads bowed in united grief, fingers gripping each other’s like mini-talons and just as fierce. My youngest siblings cried loudly and were scooped up in the embrace of the older children or my mother. My older brother stood behind the closed door, now and then reaching out to stroke my mother’s back; whether to offer comfort or be reassured by it, I do not know.

I wrapped my arms around myself and stood alone.

It was then that I remember a scorching wetness blazing over my cheek. I stared at the prone form of my grandfather, a man a hardly knew because of some difficult family dynamics. I should have been grieving for his dwindling life, should have grieved for the lost chance to know him--but I wasn’t. I was grieving for the life I’d thrown away. I could not seek the comfort of my sisters’ arms, nor lean against my brother while he stifled sound. I dared not. I had done this. What right had I to ask?

And then my father crossed the room and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. Wordless, he tucked me against his side. I felt the heat from his body and breathed in that fragrance that spells, “D-a-d.” He and I hadn’t spoken for almost two years unless it was to shout at one another yet…he was the first and only one to cross that room and pull me close. I was selfishly grateful for my ailing grandfather just so that I could be held by my dad.

While my family sobbed for a diminishing life, I sobbed for the rebirth of one.
I believe that while my grandfather was suspended between this world and the next, he orchestrated that moment. I believe that he took the hand of a broken lost girl, clasped the hand of a son he loved dearly, and brought the two together. Without words, he guided my father across the room to me and saturated that embrace with love and forgiveness. He gave that gift to me as one of the last gifts he could give and it saved my life.

What happened after that? I reconciled with my family, broke it off with the fiancé, and married the best friend.

I’ve learned much of my grandfather since then and I know he was a great man. I know he lived a full and satisfying life in which he helped many and loved even more. He raised my father to be a rare sort of man—the best kind of man. My grandfather was an exemplary human being who left the world a better place than when he arrived in it. It doesn’t surprise me that in his last moments on earth, he still worked to change and save lives…

Not the least of which was mine.

**UPDATE**Some information came to light that I was not aware of when I wrote this post. It turns out that my mom had seen my loneliness and grief in that hospital room and told my dad, who then came and embraced me. If that isn't greater proof of the fact that mothers receive inspiration and know their children better than anyone, I don't know what is. Thank you, Mom. I love you more than words can say. Thanks for loving me enough to help me find my way home.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at Tuesday, April 14, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

35 wise, witty and wonderful comments


So beautifully written as to have touched my heart so deeply.

April 14, 2009 at 10:27 PM

Beautiful. Truly.

April 14, 2009 at 10:33 PM

What a wonderful story....thanks for sharing such a personal moment with the rest of us! I'm so glad you had your happily ever after with the right guy -- the one who understood the whole "in sickness and in health" part of life. Congratulations, and keep writing!

April 14, 2009 at 10:36 PM

It's a good thing you married that boy!

Beautiful post L.T. You're one of my favorite people and always will be. =)


April 14, 2009 at 10:51 PM

Thank you, everyone. I'm honored, humbled, and touched. It is a beautiful and terrifying thing to share oneself with others but because of it, I've got to meet wonderful people in the blogging world.

Thank you, Heids. You've been a wonderful fan, friend, and confidant in some turbulent times. Thank you will never be enough.

April 14, 2009 at 10:55 PM

Just so you deserved that hug. Yeah to your dad for recognizing it! Thanks for sharing.

April 14, 2009 at 10:59 PM

You will never stand alone again. My hand is ALWAYS there. Together we will walk through any fire. Even if it's family. You are an amazing writer. Only second to how amazing you are as a person.

April 14, 2009 at 11:14 PM

Wow. So very beautiful that was! I can't even express how much I loved it! Thank you for sharing, really.

April 14, 2009 at 11:40 PM

I was crying by the end of this post. You are a writer...truly a writer.

I realize that this is not a grand proclamation, but in the blogging business, talent like yours is hard to come by.

I loved reading about your past. Wonderful insight into who you are. Thank you for sharing this.


April 15, 2009 at 2:41 AM

WOW Heidi! That is a Beautiful post!!!! You sure do have a way with words!

April 15, 2009 at 5:57 AM

Wow. The point of your grandfather in and out. That was so beautiful. There is a whole lot of love in this post Heidi. Beautiful.

April 15, 2009 at 7:04 AM

Simply beautiful, Lexiconluver. It took me right back to my father's hospital room before he passed away. You certainly have a way with words....

April 15, 2009 at 8:16 AM

Laura surely deserves all of these great comments but I just want to make it clear that it is LAURA who wrote this awesome, post, not ME.

April 15, 2009 at 8:25 AM

The post is beautiful. You are very blessed to have had that opportunity to redirect your life. I can completely relate to not knowing how to break-off an engagement (hence the first husband). I'm sure that your grandfather's passing was inspired and I'm so glad for you that you had a father who loved you so much to embrace you after those 2 years! The love of parents amazes and humbles me.

April 15, 2009 at 8:42 AM

Indeed, beautiful and touching. I am just lucky to still be the previously mentioned best friend!

I do have to take some credit for really getting under the skin of the previous fiance... It was way too much fun!

L.T.'s previously mentioned best friend / hubby ( / geek) =]

Thanks Heidi!

April 15, 2009 at 8:50 AM

Thank you everyone for these comments. I'm so touched. (I don't even have the words!) Thank you very, very much.
and CGLearner, you know I love you babe--geek and all!!!

Heidi, you're fabulous!

April 15, 2009 at 10:36 AM

That was a wonderful post. Loved it!

April 15, 2009 at 12:03 PM

What an incredible story. Thanks for sharing!

April 15, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Wow. This is really awesome. It's a great reminder of what life is really about. Makes me appreciate my loved ones more.

- Chas

April 15, 2009 at 1:06 PM

Beautifully crafted. Thank you for sharing such a touching and personal story.

April 15, 2009 at 1:51 PM

This was amazing, and you had me in tears. What a beautiful story. I guess I'll have to go over to your blog to read more of this great stuff!

April 15, 2009 at 3:14 PM

OK ---tissues please!!!!!!!!crying!!!!

April 15, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Beautiful! Way to step up and be a dad!!

Isn't it amazing how the timing of your grandfather's illness was so crucial to saving your life.

April 15, 2009 at 4:12 PM


This is just so well-written and moving, I just don't even know what to say.

Except for thank you.

God works, He just does. In the midst of our depravity, He just keeps loving us through it.

Thank you, friend.

April 15, 2009 at 5:41 PM

sorry to leave another comment but I just have to say thank you again. I'm so honored! Thank you, thank you! (And THANKS AGAIN HEIDS!)

April 15, 2009 at 5:43 PM


what more can I say?


April 15, 2009 at 9:09 PM

What an amazing story. I'll have to agree with Heidi's opening about your writing ability. This is so beautifully told.

I love that you married the best friend. And that he stuck around for you. What a great story.

April 15, 2009 at 11:42 PM

Wow. That was just incredible. I hope you plan to weave that into a story. Very powerful stuff!

April 16, 2009 at 6:04 AM

What a beautiful and amazing story. It touched me.
Thank you for sharing it.

April 16, 2009 at 10:33 AM

I'm a great big mess of snot and tears now. That was so couldn't have found better words.

April 16, 2009 at 4:20 PM

I think this is my favorite thing you've ever written. Beautiful on so many levels. I have no doubt your grandfather helped orchestrate this.

April 16, 2009 at 5:44 PM
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
April 17, 2009 at 8:29 AM

If I'm ever out of town, I know who to call. Good one, LT.

April 17, 2009 at 5:43 PM

That was beautiful.

Sometimes it's nice to know that we have angels among us.

April 18, 2009 at 10:02 PM

There aren't words to describe what I feel after reading this.

Thank you for sharing this with us in such a beautifully written way.

Thanks Heidi, for spotlighting one of my very favorite bloggers!

April 30, 2009 at 12:17 AM

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