One Heartbeat at a Time



My Sunshine and I endured a one-hour road trip down winding roads, around mountainsides, past palm trees and street vendors selling mangos and star fruit, guava and passion fruit. All because the only OB on the island of Dominica that had a functioning sonogram machine was in the capital city of Roseau. Except that when we arrived, the machine was down. Five months passed, and aside from the nausea and food aversions, I still wondered if I really was pregnant.


When we arrived back in the States, and Hubs came with me to my first appointment with an OB in Michigan, the doctor covered my tummy with a cool gel and then pointed to the screen. “Hear that?”


The whooshing sound grew stronger as she moved the device.


“Your baby has a lovely heart beat!” she said, and the tears began to flow and when I looked over to hubby, he was tearing up too.


This was for real. We were really pregnant, and this baby was on her way. Her heart beating was the song I had longed to hear for all these months, and it was even more amazing and precious than I had dreamed it would be.


When our second princess was born, the doctor told us she had a heart murmur and she would very possibly outgrow it. She did.


On Monday, December 8, 2014, I had just dropped off my youngest at school when hubby texted for me to please come home. He needed to talk to me. I left my laptop in the car, thinking whatever it was, I could hear him out and then get on with my day and my writing. Barely inside the front door, hubby met me and pulled me into his arms as he barely managed to say the words, “Julie’s son, Mikey.”


“What is it? What’s wrong? Is he hurt? Has there been an accident?”


But he only said two words, “His heart.”


And as we wept in silence before going over to our dear friend’s house, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what none of us could change. Twenty-five year old Michael Gomez, Division One Wrestling hero, State Champion, coach, and up and coming police officer had a heart attack in his sleep, and an entire community hurt deeply for the loss of such a treasure. And for the pain of two parents, two younger brothers, grandparents and all those who were grappling with the devastation.


It was a long week as funeral preparations were underway, and during the service, whatever each person heard, no one walked out of there without the sober reminder that no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Each day is a gift. Each heart beat.


During this particular week, hubby who had been training for the past sixteen months to cycle from Seattle to New York City started a work up on his own heart in search of an explanation to an abnormal stress test he had—one in which he felt little to no discomfort, but the readings clearly showed a lack of blood supply to his heart when his pulse reached 160. But when he stepped off the treadmill, it took fifteen minutes for this to go away and a normal flow to return.


One test lead to another and with each step, it seemed that maybe it was just a false positive or maybe the machine was broken. I suggested his generous gift of chest hairs interfered with the readings. His coronaries were clean, and he’d never felt so fit in his whole life. The final test was an MRI on his heart, and the cardiologists and hubby felt pretty certain it would be fine too, and they’d have to somehow dig deeper. But then the MRI Tech called for him to return to get more images.


This whole time, I felt at peace. But that afternoon when I got the text that he had to go back in for more pictures, my panic button went off. Why did they need more pictures? What did they see? I needed to talk to someone. Someone I could cry with. So I called my parents. And as I spoke with Mom and Dad, I told them my fears, and they listened, encouraged me, and made me laugh, and called me, Crybaby. When my mom asked me, “Why are you crying?”


I said, “I don’t know. I just needed to cry. So I called you.” And she passed the phone back to my dad. He reminded me to trust God and just be patient.


The next day after hubby came out of his second MRI, I knew from the look on his face that he knew something. They saw something. And as we sat in the car, he told me that the tech suspected thickening of his septum (the middle passageway in the heart) and the diagnosis was very likely cardiomyopathy.
When he got the official report the next day, hubby met me outside and this was the first time in two weeks of testing that he broke down. We made our way to the kitchen table as he read the report to me and explained the terms to me. He has hypertrophic cardio myopathy, and there’s no way he can cycle across the country. Moreover, he can’t really do anything right now to make his heart work too hard while we wait it out and let his muscles inside his heart hopefully return to a healthier thickness.


Telling the girls wasn’t easy, but our second princess offered to wake up twenty minutes early so he and she could walk to school together. J Walking is safe for hubby to do. And in the midst of tears around the dinner table, my fifteen-year old nephew who was visiting for Christmas Googles something on his iPod and says, “I know this is really sad news, but I want to encourage you.” And he proceeded to share verses from the Bible on God’s grace and hope and love for his uncle at this time. The words were like rays on sunshine piercing through our cloud-covered hearts.


FullSizeRender-1So these days, we are counting our blessings. First and foremost, hubby is still with us. The diagnosis was found fairly early. He’s still leading the c4c Cycling for Change team, just from a driver’s seat of the RV now. And he just fixed the leak under the kitchen sink, for which he earned a Superman coffee mug. He’s my hero, even if the sink still leaked. Because maybe there’s something wrong with hubby’s heart from a medical perspective, but sometimes I wonder if his heart became too strong, not from all the cycling or some genetic disposition but rather from loving me so hard. And so much.


And as we lay in bed on the morning of the New Year, I said, “Good Morning. I want to dedicate a song to you for 2015.” And then I pressed play on my phone as Smokey Robinson broke it down for us. “One Heartbeat at a Time.”


Because sixteen years ago, we vowed, “To have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health…” And as I dropped off hubby to the airport this morning for a class, he sent me a text after he got through security.


“Love you! Thanks for being my rock! For what for you foreva!”


Because that’s how our love story started. We promised to wait for each other. And now we continue to wait on God. As God unravels this new chapter, we wait as He helps us to understand Hubby’s new normal. Our new normal. And for as many heartbeats as he gives Hubby, I’m so thankful to be the one to get to hold his hand. Be held in his arms. And walk this life with him.


One heartbeat. At a time.


And you? Have you been needing a word of hope and encouragement during this new year? What challenges are you facing? How can I pray for you?



To Sleep, Perchance to… Snore

© Sarrobi | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Sarrobi | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Growing up, most girls had their “Must be” lists, you know the ones. With their top five or ten deal breaker attributes their future spouse must be.

Must be hot, as in six feet tall, manicured nails, perfectly tan, and a cross between Liam Hemsworth and Ashton Kutcher with George Clooney’s eyes.

Must be funny, but not be constantly making fun of me.

Must be educated.

Must be able to do laundry, wash dishes, and take out the garbage.

Must be all about me.

I had a different list. Can’t be. As in…

Can’t be a doctor. I know what you’re thinking. But, your hubby, he’s a doc. Well, he wasn’t when we got married. He was a med student.

Can’t be too serious. Life is serious enough on its own.

Can’t be all about himself and his ethnic background. I love diversity.

Can’t be unforgiving every time I mess up. Because I will. Mess up.

Can’t be a snoring sleeper. Possibly the most important criteria on my list.

You see, I grew up, hearing my dad snore. Continue reading

Tummy-Turning Date Night

photo-6 When you first fall in love, you go out on a date, and it doesn’t matter where you go, because you only plan to look at one thing. In one direction. Into each other’s eyes. This happens a lot in those early days, when you’re dazed and in crush, and all you want to see are his eyes captivated by you and that smile that curls up just a tad when he’s tickled by how into him you are. Those are fun days. Happy days. Days of infant love.

Then, years go on and you enjoy sharing experiences together. Attend a show together. Share a blanket in the stands during a game. Squeeze the life out of each others’ hands on the rides at an amusement park. All the while, your eyes are fixed on the world in front of you, but the end of the night, your eyes are back on each other as you relive the thrill of the day, the awe of what you shared, the moments that you experienced. Together. 

More years pass and you go on a date, and your eyes are everywhere. On the menu. On the big screen TV on the wall over the bar. On your iPhone, just in case someone posted some earth shattering news on Facebook. Yeah, you’re a little distracted. But, so is he, and you’re still enjoying each other’s company, and you still end the night, eyes on each other, kisses and cuddles. You’re just not fixated with the new, because you’re cozy with the years behind you and looking forward to the years ahead of you. Like a good wine, I hear, it gets better with time. But it also needs to be savored and not gulped as we often do with each other in those wrapped around each other, cling-on, young love days. Right? Sure, I suppose.

But you know what? Sometimes you have to get a little crazy and do those things that you used to do when you first fell into each other’s gaze. It’s called being creative. Takes a little time and energy. And you’ll often find, when you take some initiative, smiles grow wider, hugs get tighter, and the one you love is reminded. That he’s loved. That she’s cherished. I think it’s worth the effort. Continue reading

Be My Underwater Valentine!

No one ever gave me chocolate or flowers on Valentine’s Day…until I got married. Even then, my hubby has never been a traditionalist. In fact, on our first Valentine’s day as newlyweds, I received a gift that plunged me under the sea. Literally.
I’m reading about magic while my med school hubster examines microbiology slides for tomorrow’s quiz. Just a typical day in our lives at Ross Medical School on the island of Dominica. When I turn the page, he slips an envelope on top of Harry Potter’s first run in with Voldemort. I mindlessly shuffle it behind the back cover and keep reading. 
“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Sun says quietly, giving priority to the envelope. 
Potter, you will have to wait. Continue reading

“The Other Night” 

Today’s post is found on MidLife Collage. My short vignette is in this week’s contest and you could pop over there, leave a comment, and hit the FB like option to help me win $100 shmacks! With that kind of cashflow, I might just have to buy hubby some roses! :) And just think, you might have missed voting for American Idol, but you can still vote for me! :)

And before you read it, I want you to know that I really thought about this story before I put it out there. During this season of Valentine’s, when all you hear and see are kisses and cuddles, roses and chocolate, life still happens. Lovers fight. Marriage is not easy. And relationships are perhaps more challenging than ever if they want to thrive.

The actual event the story describes happened a year ago. So for the record, we are so over it. And chances are, hubs might not even remember it. Wish I could say it was the first and last bad fight we ever had, but then my love story would be a fairy tale. And truth be told, it’s so much better than any fairy tale I’ve ever read. Simply because tested love produces real love. And I prefer the real deal over the fluff stuff any day. And every day.

Happy reading and huge cyber hugs for voting for me!! :)


Expect the Unexpected!

The night before my parents anniversary, I picked up my sister from the airport and hubby dropped us off at the Downtown Cafe around 8:30PM. With my laptop and placement cards. We needed to go over the slide shows, party agenda and figure out who was sitting where. The slide show was the easiest part. Then came the seating arrangement. Which wasn’t too difficult either since we were only hosting about sixty guests. Finally we rounded off the program, going over a rough map of timing to make sure we didn’t spend too much time on speeches and left plenty of minutes for dancing. 


My sister pretty much let me plan this one, which was fun since I never really planned a party like this before. Even my own wedding had so many voices in the decision-making process, I didn’t feel like I had a final say in much. Except maybe the Cheeseballs bit. Trying to remember who won them. It was all a gag really. While hubby and I walked around Target, zapping items for our wedding registry, we were having so much fun, we decided to include a few random items just to make our friends laugh. One of those items was… Cheeseballs. And then we decided that the first person to either purchase them for us or say something to us about it, like, “Why the heck would you register for ‘Cheeseballs?’” we’d award them the winning prize of [drum roll please…] Cheeseballs. And we did. I think Liz won them! :)  Continue reading

Can I Have This Dance?

I love to dance. Even if most days I have two left feet, when I hear music, my feet can’t help but move. As does the rest of my body. Whether the parts all motion in sync or a little off step, I can’t help but get up and sway when the tunes reach my ears and seep down into my toes. 

Plus I’m Punjabi. And if you’re Punjabi, you have to dance. It’s kind of like a prerequisite for claiming your Punjabi status. 

Officer: “So you’re Punjabi?” 

Me: “Yes.”

Officer: “Then you dance? Is that correct? Because I love Indian music and dancing!”

Me: “Yes. Of course.”

Officer: “In that case, I believe you. I’ll let the ticket slide… This time.”

This really happened to me when I got pulled over for speeding. The police officer agreed to retract my fine when I promised he could join my friends and me in the city for some Basement Bhangra! Okay, I jest. But wouldn’t that have been cool!?! 😉 Continue reading

Celebrating Love. 45 Years of it!

Photo Credit: Alex Chung!

Five years ago, I made a mistake. I had a chance to throw my parents a 40th Anniversary party, and I didn’t. I chickened out. I was scared of life’s “what if’s.” But I hate the fact that I let my fears dictate my decision. 

Six months ago, like Jonah in the belly of a whale surrounded by a choir of gospel singers [great Veggie Tales movie by the way,] I received a second chance. 

October 11, 2012 would mark my parents’ 45th anniversary, and if I started right now [then, June-ish] I could throw them the party I’d been dreaming of my whole life. 

You see, I have two really amazing parents. I’m not talking the kind you just blow kisses at and thank on stage when you’re receiving an Oscar. In my life, they are my heroes. My super-heroes really. And there aren’t enough trees in Yosemite to make the paper I’d need to list the reasons why I think so.  Continue reading

Wreck it Raj

Sitting in the theater last night as I watched the credits roll, something gnawed at me. I liked the ending of Wreck-it Ralph, but I hated the last line. It’s the writer in me. I thought the actual final words were weak.The decision to spend the evening at the movies came after a week of persistent bugging from the kiddos. Didn’t hurt that Hannah had a Fandango gift card to offset the cost.
So when Hubs texted that he was almost home, I pressed send and the handy-dandy iPhone5 received the digital code for a paperless ticket to the land of make-belief.I love the concept of Wreck it Ralph. The idea that the characters inside video games are real and have feelings and actually live secret lives of drama and consequence once the lights go out in the arcade. I love how the movie spanned generations of games and technology and cameo’d my favorite hopping blast from the past… Q-Bert!!

Foxy Friday Date-Night

Last Friday night, hubs and I dropped off one daughter at basketball practice and headed off to date night. We debated whether to see a movie or not. Threw around the idea of shooting pool at Dave and Busters. Even considered driving into Manhattan just to walk around Time Square. In the end, exhaustion helped us to make our decision. We decided to stay local, check out an eatery we have been eyeing for years and walk along the water. 

As we drove a few miles from our house to Oyster Bay, the bowl of soup I downed an hour ago seemed to have disappeared. “I’m starving!” Continue reading