Last Thursday was my 32nd birthday. One of the things AC and I had not yet done after returning from Australia was reunite with our cat, Sweetness, who had been staying with my parents in Mississippi. So we decided to go to the Gulf Coast for the bday weekend and to pick her up.
On my birthday I had a great 5 Happiness lunch with my parents then spent the evening chatting on the phone. It was like old times, being silly on the phone at my parent’s house. I spoke with several people, but especially my best friend forever, Sarah. She’s been so busy with work and planning an event at the museum that it had been awhile since we had an extended conversation. We talked about not feeling our age, goofy 80s and 90s songs that the fabulous DIVA 92.3 plays, and how our 30s are going to be fabulous. We talked about the presents we have been collecting for each other all summer and how excited we were to see each other the next day.
Typically when I go to NOLA these days I have to split my time between Mississippi and NOLA so my main night to see friends was Friday. I drove in around 11am, had a late lunch with the little girl I used to tutor [who is now in college!], then was making my way to my hotel when I got a phone call from Sarah’s cell phone.
But it wasn’t Sarah’s voice. It was Leigh’s, one of our fellow dancer friends. She asked me if I had heard about what happened to Sarah. When I said no, she asked if I was sitting down. I told her I was driving but to hurry up and tell me anyway. Nothing could have prepared me for what she said next. Apparently Sarah had had a stroke that morning and was about to go into surgery so the doctors could remove a blood clot in her brain.
What shocked me then and still now is that Sarah is the healthiest person I know and for this to happen to someone only 29 years old makes no sense. I knew I couldn’t get to the hospital right then so I got some more info from Leigh then made it to my hotel. I was slightly relieved that this seemed to be a very medical issue and not something caused by a car accident or something else tragically human. A few hours later I got to speak with Sarah’s mom who was so calm and optimistic and strong that I couldn’t help feel the same way. It turns out that her condition was congenital and that the doctors seem to have taken care of it. The left side of her body is not very responsive, yet, but she’s already out of the Intensive Care Unit and in her own room in the Therapy wing.
Andy and I went to the hospital on Saturday morning and actually got to see her. She waved and nodded and I could see her smiling a couple times with the right side of her mouth. Friends have been calling me after they visit her on a daily basis and I’m going to try my best to get to NOLA again soon. Last night I even got to speak to Sarah on the phone and while she sounded weak and said “I want to go home,” which broke my heart, I have to believe that her progress will continue on an upswing.
Our friend Trina just sent me this link which helps explain the type of stroke Sarah had. Keep her in your prayers.
Life doesn’t prepare us for these things, but it only reminds me how much my NOLA friends mean to me and how badly I want to be physically present in their lives.