Six years ago…I died.

No, I’m not being dramatic. On June 16, 2009 my life as I knew it up to that point took a turn for the worst. I had a massive stroke that – by medical standards – should have killed me. The location of the clot was central so both sides of my body were affected. The doctor gave me three results – after giving me “the most expensive medicine in the hospital.” The medicine was either going to a) not work and the clot would cut off oxygen to my  brain resulting in death; b) work too well and I would bleed out and die; or c) work as expected, dissolve the clot, and I would recover. How well? That was yet to be determined.

At that point I was 2.5 hours into the stroke and only had a 30 minute window before s**t got real. So while everyone around me is asking 50 Million questions about side effect, options, recovery expectation, etc. I’m lying in bed wanting to get it over with. Without hesitation I said give me the medicine. The doctor when to page the pharmacy. All of a sudden I could see the look of concern on my loved ones faces. Looks that said, What if she doesn’t make it? Who will take care of her children? Will she be the same? How did this happen? She’s only 28 years old.

Some of these questions should have crossed my own mind. But they didn’t. I wasn’t concerned about surviving. I just wanted to recover. When the nurse came in to hook up that expensive medication I remember him saying it would make me feel way better than Grey Goose! (We joked about how my self-titled B’s Birthday Bash weekend wasn’t supposed to start off like this!) He hooked up the bag, released the medication, and in seconds I was out.

That’s where everything went black for me. I don’t know what happened because I keep getting conflicting stories. I could obtain my medical records, but…nah! There was no white light. There were no trumpets, horns, or angels singing to me. I didn’t hear any deep voices. Did I cross over? I don’t know. If I did I have no recollection of it. I can’t tell you there’s a heaven, or that there’s another realm outside of what we know to exist. What I can tell you is that between receiving that medicine and waking up to see a green balloon that said Happy 29th Birthday Barbara something happened to me.

I died.

Not physically…obviously…I don’t think. I mean everything that I knew to be important before that moment died. Things that I thought were important became nonexistent. People that I thought were in my corner disappeared. Even my goals faded to black. Why? Because at that moment nothing mattered to me. I was shown just how fragile life could be. I went from being three weeks away from moving to Atlanta and changing jobs to learning how to walk, talk, and eat again. Funny how life works like that. What doctors, therapists, and specialists thought would take me over a year to do was conquered in less than six months. By the end of the year I was in a better position than I was when I stroked out.

In a sense, my rebirth happened on my birthday. It seemed only right, I guess, looking back on it. Maybe it was required for my breakthrough. Maybe I needed to die to myself before I could live out my intended purpose. Maybe the stroke was an opportunity for me to step back and see what – and who – really mattered. Maybe…maybe…maybe. Life is full of maybes. I never did fully understand why I went through what I did…and I accept the fact that I never will. The only thing I will understand is that I’m still here for a reason. I now know my reason. It’s to help others through their writing. I’m making the steps necessary to fulfill my purpose. My survival will not be in vain.

So what’s the moral of this post – and my incessant rambling?! Well, I needed to practice…and I wanted to let you know that at times you, too, may have to die to yourself. Not necessarily how I did, but in your own way. It may be what’s required for you to have your own breakthrough. It may happen once. It may happen dozens of times. The key is to grow from every breakthrough and define it – not let it define you. My breakthrough was necessary because I was already preparing for bigger and better for my family and myself. I just didn’t know what was required to reach that level. Now, six years later, I’ve more than exceeded the life that I expected. I have a loving, caring, and wonderful husband – who’s just as crazy as me! I have five beautiful, smart, talented children. I’ve obtained an Associate, Bachelor, and Master degrees. My accountability partner is the ish! I have five published novels, my own publishing company, and the skills and qualifications to help anyone who desires to have a career in the literary field. You can achieve anything you set your heart desires. I desired a family…and I got it. I desired a literary career…and I obtained it. More importantly, on June 16th 2009 I desired to live…and now I’m doing just that…LIVING!

What do you desire?

Die to yourself…make your breakthrough…and DO IT!!!

Rest in peace to the old me…and happy birthday to the new me!

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