A Letter to myself on November 8, 2018

Cynthia, tomorrow will start like any other day – but it will end far from ordinary.

Tomorrow will mark the rest of your life.

Your son will witness the scariest moment of his innocent five-year-old life. Yes, as a mom, you will want to shield him from the panic and fright he will feel and continue to have for the years after tomorrow night. But the people in your life, your village will take great care of him. They will make him strong with their love and support.

Cynthia, tomorrow, will be hard. You will be tired from work and you will consider not going to your friend’s house for game night. BUT GO!

Bryce needs you to be with people tomorrow night. YOU need to be with people tomorrow night – those incredible individuals will jump to their feet and act with incredible urgency that will keep you from being one of the 16% who die on their way to the hospital after what will happen to you.

If you decide to stay home – God only knows what might happen. But just remember that you live alone with Bryce. He’s only five. That little boy has no idea what to do in case of an emergency. He wouldn’t know what to do if he saw you fall and not get up and he was by himself. He wouldn’t know what to do, if mommy didn’t wake up in the morning.

As mentally drained as you are from the everyday comings and goings of single parenthood - make your apple crumble squares for the get-together. Then, put Bryce in the car and get to your friend’s house.

Cynthia, this will be hard to read, but within minutes of being at your friend’s house, you will fall to your feet, almost knocking Bryce over. He will think it was something he did. But your friends will hold him and shield him from what happens next. They will comfort him, reassure him that mommy will ok – although, they themselves, don’t know that. They won’t even know what happened to you. But they will rush to his side.

You will almost die tomorrow night.

No, you didn’t do anything to cause this to happen. No decision you ever made in your life will cause this to happen to you on this day, in this house, in front of these people. It will be a freak accident. But the fact that you were not at home by yourself, will save your life.

Tomorrow night, an aneurysm will rupture in your brain.

There’s nothing you will be able to do to prevent it at this exact moment. There will be no warning. No sudden headache. No strange feeling. In fact, you will feel normal all day. But you will collapse suddenly.

The paramedics will rush through 95 South, the sirens screaming through the highways of Delaware to get to you Meanwhile, an hour and a half away, in Pennsylvania, your family will throw the bed covers off their tired and relaxing bodies and jump to their feet in fright and disbelief of the phone call they will get. They, too, will act as quickly as humanly possible. As they get in their cars and make the never ending drive from Pennsylvania to Delaware, not knowing what happened or if they will see you alive when they get there. They just have to get there. They will pray to make it there in time.

You will arrive to the hospital, screaming and begging for them to take your head off. You will be in desperate agony, but don’t worry – you won’t remember any of this anguish.

You will be unconscious for nearly two weeks. Your injuries will cause you to have a stroke, brain swelling, numerous infections, pneumonia and two lifesaving surgeries. The doctors will try to prepare your family for the worst. Because the truth is – they just don’t know if you will make it through surgery. You will be in severe critical state.

While unconscious, news of your condition will travel far and wide. Current and former coworkers in England, California, Canada, Brazil, Germany will learn of this and will pray for your life, for your son, and for your family. Your family in Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and in Canada will lift you up in their thoughts. The friends you have made throughout your 34 years of life from previous jobs, your current job, college, pageantry, high school will all pray for you.

Although, you will not remember the physical pain and desperation you will experience during this time - one memory, a dream, will be forever engraved in your heart and soul.

At some point, you will see one of your dearest friends who you miss so deeply and who passed away too soon.

Like an angel, glowing in the most gorgeous of lights, she will tell you that although she misses you, it’s not your time. Her smile and presence will reassure you that, it’s not your time yet. You will smile at each other and you will tell her, “I’m not ready to go. I have to stay for Bryce.”

Your critical state, will be touch and go. Your friends and family will camp out in the hospital waiting room. Nurses will learn that no matter the visiting hours, “Cynthia’s family will sleep in the waiting room. We can’t and won’t kick them out.”

As your family is doing their best trying to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal that was brought to them from your wonderful coworkers, you will awaken. And you will be surrounded by family.

I wish I could tell you that you walked out of that hospital like nothing ever happened, and the doctor ordered you rest and relaxation. But that would be a lie.

After being in the hospital for a month and 10 days, you went through one more surgery and then off to the rehabilitation for 2 weeks.

For the next 13 months, things will get hard. Terrible even. You will see no end in sight. No future. You will be afraid to fall asleep, afraid that you wouldn’t wake up. The anxiety you will feel over wanting to live and not wanting Bryce to grow up without a mother will take over your every waking thought that you will cry yourself to sleep. You will pray and beg for one more day, one more hour – one more minute.

Bryce, will lay on you and beg to not go to school the next day because he wants to make sure that you are home when he gets back. He will talk about the day “mommy fell” like it was yesterday. His eyes will scream the anxiety he has over this when he looks at you. His tight hugs will silently beg for you to not go away again. Every kiss that lands on your cheek will be full of relief, relief that you are here with him now.

Throughout the next 13 months of recovery – you will receive bad news after bad news about your injury. There will be multiple setbacks, multiple surgeries – a total of nine to be exact! It will get so dark that you will think anything good is possible. No matter how many amazing people who love you are around you – you will feel the loneliest you have ever felt and will ever feel.

But you won’t be alone, your family will fight with you and with Bryce as fiercely as they love. Y

You will learn who your true friends are and will reconnect with people you don’t talk to often and it will seem like no time has passed. You will have an incredible team of doctors who cry along with you when you just can’t anymore. They will give you the words you need at the exact moment you need them. You will meet nurses that will go out of their way to visit you when you are back in the hospital because they heard “Cynthia is back!” When you see them at the grocery store, both of you will get teary eyed as they tell you how happy and proud they are to see you living your life with your son. You will meet therapists that you will keep in touch with long after this is behind you.

You will learn what a fighting spirit is. By working hard and showing your son how to work through your struggle, you will see this hard working spirit in in him. You will see him grow as a compassionate little human. He will constantly check up on you to see if you are ok. He will be your biggest helper in the everyday things.

Cynthia – above all else, you will live. You will share your story in hopes of helping others who go through the same.

Cynthia. No. This isn’t a warning. Of what will happen on November 9, 2018 in order for you to change something. As much as you will wish you didn’t have to go through any of that. And you are in no way “happy” that you and your family had to go through that – You will be happy of the person you are now, three years later! You Recovered and Triumphed!

Love always,

Future you.

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