Monday, June 4, 2012


     I was standing in the middle of a field with my husband and two little boys. It was a gloriously warm autumn day, and we were surrounded by pumpkins which were graciously sacrificing themselves to become our Jack-O-Lanterns.  My boys were energetically discussing the pros and cons of every pumpkin within eye sight.  I was caught up in this magical moment, as I watched my two precious children in their animated discussion of these enormous gourds. The enthusiasm of their living brought on an unexpected and spontaneous eruption of emotion in me. 

     It had been less than a year before that I had been battling for my own life, having survived a deadly form of a Strep A bacterial infection, commonly known as “the flesh eating bacteria.” Understanding how privileged and how blessed I was to be able to witness my children’s laughter brought me to tears. As I bent down to look at the orange globes of their affection, I heard someone calling my name.

     “Cindy…Cindy,” I heard my name wafting over the hundreds of people collected in this field with the same intent as my own.  I looked up and saw a beautiful blonde woman, arms outstretched, smile beaming lighting up her flawless face, bounding over dozens of pumpkins in the effort of reaching me.  She embraced me with such enthusiasm that she nearly knocked me off my feet. 

     I was standing on uneven ground, and knocking me down was a much easier proposition than my trying to keep upright. The bacterial infection which almost took my life, managed instead to take parts of me. The lower portions of my legs, my right hand, and the left half of my chest had all fallen victim to this devastating illness. Still a bit shaky on the fake feet at the end of my prosthetic legs, I managed to keep my balance and remained standing.

     I hugged my beautiful beckoner, Arlis, with all my might, not sure if I was ready to let her go. She was one of my nurses, and was the one who took care of me the night I came to her Intensive Care Unit on the Flight for Life helicopter. She stayed with me for twelve solid hours that first night of my arrival, only leaving me when she absolutely had to do something outside of my room.

     “Oh Cindy, I can’t believe it’s you! You look great.” Both of us were bawling at our unforeseen yet fortuitous reunion.  “This is a true miracle,” she began, “I was so scared that night you came into the ICU. Everyone had done what they could for you, and in fact the doctors were giving you a less than one percent chance to make it through that night. But ya know what, Cindy; I could feel your fight. Your will to live was palpable. I wasn’t about to let you die...not on my watch.”

     We dried our tears, quickly caught up on each others' lives, and made promises to stay in touch, before my two little pumpkin procurers were ready to leave the pumpkin patch. 

      On the way home, I began to think about Arils’s words. I thought about how I had survived a death sentence, and began to understand how I beat the odds. The reasons were sitting in this very car with me. Three men, two under the age of four and a half had thrown me a life line. They were the ones pulling me out of the darkness and back to them—back into the light of their lives... of all of our lives.  It was my guys, my two little boys and my husband, who provided me the impetus...the will to not give up.  

     My two little lifelines, in flesh and blood, were clutching their pumpkins, and singing spooky Halloween music at the top of their lungs. The other was humming along driving the car.

     Lifelines are necessary tools in the Survivor’s tool kit. Knowing who or what that lifeline(s) is, is invaluable knowledge. Your lifelines can come in all shapes, sizes, and forms.  It matters not what you choose (or what chooses you) to be your lifeline.  What matters is that you have one, recognize it, and allow it to pull you out of the darkness, and into the light.