What a heart attack taught me

I had a conversation recently with someone who had a heart attack five years ago. Stan Pool is the eternal optimist, making it a point to always be positive and happy, and to create that same feeling for others around him. He is always laughing and trying to make you laugh. After his heart failed him, he decided to be even more keenly aware of just how precious life is and how wonderful it is to be alive. He said that now he considers every day a “BONUS DAY.” He told me about playing racquetball with his wife and son earlier that day and how fun and wonderful it was. He paused, and with tears in his eyes, he told me, “that was a bonus day.” Seeing him emotional made me cry, of course. I love Stan. And I thought of how cancer, like his heart attack, has changed my perspective on life. I explained to him that I felt the same way. Every day is a bonus day. It’s one more chance to spend with our loved ones. One more chance to grow and learn. One more chance to start all over again and try to be better. One more chance to enjoy other people and bring light into their lives. 
 

This was a rainy October day in 2015 when we lived next to Lake Tahoe. It was an adventure going on a bike ride in the pouring rain and hiding under a tree to stop for lunch, but I loved it! It was a bonus day that I don’t want to forget.

During our Christmas vacation in Midway, we spent an afternoon at the swimming pool with our friends, the Roberts. Fletcher was done swimming, so I held and snuggled him in a chair on the side. (That in itself was a bonus for me because he usually doesn’t sit still long enough to let me snuggle him.) As we watched from the sideline, I noticed that everyone was laughing and having a great time together. In that moment, my emotions got the best of me. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of it being a bonus day, just like Stan explained to me days earlier. I felt truly lucky to be alive and to witness that moment with my family and friends. 

Swimming in Midway, Utah / Christmas 2016

 
Since this conversation with Stan, I have tried to make it a point to remember that each new day is a bonus. I want to be more like Stan. I want to laugh more and create joy for others, just like Stan does. I want to appreciate my time with my husband and kids more. I want to consider my time with them as a gift. Every night when I go to sleep, I want to look back on the day and confidently declare, “today was a bonus day.”

About Melanie

Hi. My name is Melanie. I currently live in Salt Lake City with my husband and our three children. Although I have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, people are continuously surprised of my optimism for life. For this reason, I have started this blog to inspire others to live life to the fullest as if they had Five Years To Live.

One Response to What a heart attack taught me

  1. Ilaria says:

    I love this, Mel! I do something similar, but instead of calling it “bonus day” I call it, “enjoy the present/day.” I feel years and years behind with this concept, so I am determined to get good at it quickly. 🙂 No more waste of time, of days, of the present!!

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