Shonda Rhimes HRC 2015 speech. Actual speech starts at 00:37. She talks about this in her new book "Year of Yes"...a really good read for those of you who may feel alone.
Death and near death, has been all around me in the past month. It seems like every day I go to work and another client cancels because they have to go to a funeral. Just a couple of weeks ago, my mom died. She was not breathing and unresponsive. My dad and the paramedics brought her back to life. When I heard about it, I was on my way to teach a class. It was just another day until that point. Wake up, go to work, go home etc… Then I got a series of texts like a machine gun going off. A sure sign that it was my dad. He always sends 8-10 texts in a row. It didn’t happen at his normal time. 4:00pm on a Tuesday is not when we chat. The fact that my mom has been very ill recently made me stomach drop when all the texts came in. And my fears were confirmed. Thankfully she made it and is doing well.
I cried for days. Partially because I didn’t want to lose my mom and partially because I didn’t want my dad to lose my mom and be alone. I have seen some pretty poor excuses for what some people call “marriage”, but theirs isn’t one of them. When they said for better or worse, they meant it. They have had some tough times that would have shaken any marriage, but theirs remained strong. Infidelity, not even a remote possibility because they are best friends. When I think about it, I can’t remember a time when he went out with the boys or she with the girls. They were always together because they were always each other’s first choice. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with married people who go out with friends. It’s completely healthy and “normal” It’s fine as long as you surround yourself with good people who have your BEST interest in mind and not their own. Being raised in that environment has been both a blessing and a curse for me.
When I got old enough to be in a relationship, I wanted the same thing and still do. Some of the people I have been in relationships with did not feel the same. Perhaps because I felt like they were enough for me, but I wasn’t enough for them. They needed something more. I know exactly how they feel because I have been in their position as well. I have tried to force myself into believing that I had met my soulmate when the reality was, they weren’t. I needed more.
I work in a gym and I’m a partner in a business that is next door. I was training a client 3 days ago at the gym and a member of the other business ran in and said somebody had gone down next door. I asked “Is she breathing?” and she was very panicked and said “I don’t know!” So I ripped the AED off the wall and ran as fast as I could to get next door. As I was running through the parking lot, I had visions of my dad giving my mom CPR on their bathroom floor. There was nothing but terror and fear pumping through me in that moment, so I can’t imagine what he was feeling as he was trying to bring his wife back to life. I didn’t know the member outside of the gym, but that didn’t matter. It was a life…it was somebody else’s wife, daughter etc. Thankfully when I got there she was alive and conscious, but there was clearly something major wrong. The instructor who was teaching the class is also a nurse and acted quickly and because of that and all the seemingly small, but very important things everybody in the class did, the member will make a full recovery.
I have been in a state of shock ever since. Can’t seem to shake it. So what do I do every time this happens? I write. I write until I get to the bottom of what is really bothering me.
I think part of my funk is due to the harsh reminder that we are all mortal and our lives can be taken away in an instant without warning. There is no guarantee I or somebody I love will wake up tomorrow. It’s easy to forget that. After all, that is something that happens on TV and to other people. That is never something that will happen to me…until it does.
While we were waiting for the ambulance to come, we were trying to get ahold of her husband. It was around 5:50am and he was sleeping. I’m sure when he kissed her goodnight, he never imagined that he would wake up to that call the next day. As I was driving home from work that afternoon thinking about it, it hit me. If that happened to me, there would be nobody to call. I am alone.
Yes I have some really amazing friends in my life that I consider my family that take care of me every day. My parents would do anything for me, but they are 9 hours away.
I could have settled on a relationship long ago that many people might think is good enough….or at least it’s better than being alone. But I refuse to do that. I admit in the past few days, I had a few second thoughts. Maybe I was asking for too much. Maybe my expectations aren’t realistic. But then I remembered my mom laying on the bathroom floor and my dad performing CPR on her. And the reality is that without him by her side all these years, she would not be here today. This isn’t her first brush with death. But I also know, that not every marriage is like theirs.
There are many married couples that lay next to each other in bed every night, but they are horribly alone. Yes, there is another body in the house, but they are mentally and emotionally disengaged. That is a certain kind of pain that is indescribable. But you will know it when you feel it. Man, have I been there. It is the worst feeling in the world when somebody you love looks past you. They are in the room, but they are not present.
You see, my mom woke my dad up to help her to the restroom. What if he was sleeping in another room? What if she didn’t ask him to help her because she knew it would make him mad to be woken up? What if she had too much pride to ask for help? What if he was out with his friends? If any of these things would have happened, she would be in the ground at this very moment.
The reality is that I am not alone. I’m not in a relationship, but I am not alone. I might not wake up tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean I will lower my standards of what I think love is so I won’t be alone today. That doesn’t mean I will use the WRONG one to fill in the blank until the RIGHT one comes along.
I’m 50% sure I will die from choking on something I was eating in bed. They will find my body half eaten by 150 cats 2 weeks later. But I’m also 50% sure I will die next to the love of my life. It could go either way.
Death is a scary thing. When you are faced with it, you really start to reevaluate your life and the people in it. Our time on this earth is so very short. Don’t waste a minute of it. Choose someone because of love, not loneliness.