If you died today, would you be happy with your life? Would everything be in order? Would you be ready to go, knowing your family would be okay without you? Would your children know how much you loved them? We hear these questions all the time. People post those inspirational memes on Facebook telling you to “live your life to the fullest.” But do we ever really listen? Honestly, I don’t think we do listen. No…instead we hit “Like” or “Share” and keep scrolling.
People die every day unexpectedly. Recently, that happened in my family and no one knew it was coming. Are we really doing everything we should be doing to not only live our lives to the fullest, but to know our families would be okay without us?
In the past few months, the way I’ve been living my life all this time has really bothered me because last fall, something happened to me. I was stung by a bee, and I never expected what would happen next…
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was September 26, 2015. We went out to a campground in Louisville where Dale’s parents were camping for the weekend. I didn’t want to go. I’m not the “outdoorsy” type. I wanted to sit on my ass and watch the Husker game. But I went anyway because I was supposed to be the “good mom” and go let the kids have fun.
We were at the campground for about 10-15 minutes, and I caught the end of the Husker game on the radio. Bugs were everywhere and I was irritated. Bees, gnats, flies. I hate them all. As I was holding my son in my lap, I felt something strange in my right arm. I look down, and it’s a bee sting.
I tried to shake it off, but I couldn’t. Then my anxiety kicked in. I became very short of breath, and remember gasping for air. I couldn’t figure out what was happening to me. The next thing I know, I’m in our car with our husband and son. I didn’t know where we were going, but we went. We stopped at the campground convenience store. Closed. Dale was looking in the windows and frantically trying the locked door, but no luck. So we drove further. Eventually we found a gas station where my husband bought me some water and Benadryl. As I sat in the car gasping for air, I looked in the mirror and noticed my neck getting red and splotchy. My face was starting to go numb. It was at that moment that I freaked out. I’m allergic to bees! We are in the middle of fucking nowhere, and I’m allergic to bees!
I recall my mind going in and out. It was like I was watching myself overhead and there was nothing I could do. We called an ambulance but in my mind, it didn’t matter. I knew I was going to die. They immediately administered the Epipen and put me in the back of the ambulance. I remember hearing the sirens, and the only thing I could think of was… Would my family be okay without me? I yelled out the ambulance doors to my husband, not saying, “I love you,” but telling him, “Follow me to the hospital, but don’t forget the diaper bag.” I thought I was going to die, and I was worried about my son’s diaper bag.
Needless to say (as I’m writing this blog), after allergy meds, an Epipen, and a few breathing treatments…I lived. Thank god, I lived. For my husband, I lived. For my children, I lived.
It was one of the scariest moments of my life. But other than my marriage and the birth of our children, it’s probably the one of best things that’s ever happened to me. I realized a few things in my little adventure…
- Life is what you make of it. Don’t take it for granted. Live every day like it is your last. Let your heart love. Let your fears be known. Let your eyes cry. Let your mind wander. Let your loved ones know how much you care. And if you were to die tomorrow make damn sure you’d be happy with what you’ve done with your life.
- Get your shit in order. Before this happened, I didn’t have anything ready for my death. No last will and testament. No college funds for the kids. No letters to my loved ones. Shit, I didn’t even know if my husband would know where I kept the budget spreadsheet, let alone how to access my retirement funds. Make sure that if you left this world, your family could go on without you. Make sure you’ve done everything you can to know they are taken care of. They are the people we live for, so make sure they’re taken care of.
- Take care of yourself. I’ve struggled my whole life with anxiety and depression. Sometimes I would treat it; other times, I’d tell myself I was fine. It wasn’t until my panic attack that day that I realized I had let my anxiety and depression affect not only me, but my family as well. Once I started seeking treatment for General Anxiety Disorder, I realized all the hell I had been putting myself and my family through. This led me to want to be better. It led me to want to take care of myself, so that the days I am on this earth, I’m at my best.
- Go after your dreams. There are things I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be an interior designer. I love using my creativity. My husband has always wanted to open a bar and own a business. I’ve always wanted to write a book. There are so many dreams that had been put on the back burner to this grind I call life, and until September 26th, I never thought any of them could happen. Now, I truly believe the sky is the limit. My anxiety is under control and things have become so much clearer to me. Yes, all of our dreams will take some time, but damn it, my husband and I are going to have the life we want. We will tackle these things one at a time. I’ve started my book, and one of these days, I promise, you’ll be seeing it on the shelves!
- Tell your family EVERY DAY that you love them. You never know when it’ll be the last time you get to say it.
For me, it took a stupid little bee and a very expensive ambulance ride to give me the kick in the ass I needed. Here’s hoping that a little advice from a working mom with anxiety will give you the kick you need…