I have listened to a number of talks by Catholic speaker Katrina Zeno and she has mentioned the importance of having good friends in your life. In December of 2004, I came to see that in a major way. I became very ill, and slipped into a coma for about nine days. I never realized what happened until I woke up in the hospital.
It happened that I was supposed to be in a recital performance where I take my acting lessons, and a couple of my friends attended. They became concerned when I wasn't there. One of them headed over to a perpetual adoration chapel, and he started to get the feeling that he shouldn't be there — that he should instead check on me. He also contacted another friend of mine, and the two of them met up at my apartment. They managed to get inside, and they found me unconscious. They called 911, and I was taken to the hospital.
I would not have made it through the night had they not found me. The doctors did not think I was going to make it as it was. These friends visited me in the hospital and talked and sang to me while I was in my coma. The second friend who had attended the recital sang "O Holy Night" to me. She told me that I got some sort of expression on my face (I don't know remember how she described it) and that I came out of the coma shortly afterwards.
My family was also there for me. My father, who is not even Catholic, was the one who went to the rectory and got a priest to give me the Anointing of the Sick. My mother spent several hours a day talking and reading to me. She had to come back from Florida, where she had just arrived to spend the winter (my father, who still works, takes an occasional long weekend to be with her during that time). My sister ended up breaking an ankle while tripping — a result of her state of mind after being told I wasn't going to make it — but she was there for me too. My brother was also a big help.
On Christmas Eve, my choir director came to the hospital with her family and another woman involved in the choir. They sang some Christmas carols with me. It made up a little for what I missed out on at Christmas Eve Mass. I was in the hospital for about four weeks.
After that, my parents took care of me in their home for several more weeks. My mother even took me farther than she would have liked for my outpatient therapy (I had to go where my insurance allowed).
Once I returned home, I was able to resume my normal activities. I got back into them gradually and returned to my Bible Study group on the night of our annual Seder supper. I decided to make it a surprise and received a nice welcome. I also received a nice welcome when I went back to work (as well as a goodie basket from them while I was out).
I've come a long way from where I was on that December day in 2004. I've served a one-year term as membership coordinator of my Bible Study group, gave talks on two retreats, attended two other challenging retreats that involved some physical activity, filled in one Sunday as conductor for my choir (despite no previous experience), and sang various songs as vocalist in a benefit concert.
It was on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe that I was rushed to the hospital, so I spent a year taking her image to visit a different home each week. I was also involved in a community theater production of Oklahoma in November 2006. I owe many thanks to my family, friends, and others who have helped me get to where I am today. As a single Catholic, they have — quite literally — made a difference in my life.
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