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  • Writer's pictureMaureen Diaz

The Most Wonderful, Terrible Thing - Part 1

Updated: Jun 12

June 9th, 2019 is a date that will forever live on in the memory of our family. It was the night that began the most wonderful, terrible thing to ever happen to our family and me, a night which began a 10 day journey of discovering God’s grace, providence, presence, care, and love for us while at the same time cementing the love that our family shares for one another and, especially, our kind and good husband/father/son/brother/friend, George.


The house on Boot Cove

Our long-standing clients who over many years had become an important and integral part of our lives, and together with a few of their friends, had purchased an absolutely stunning property in the very North East of the US near the tiny fishing and tourist village of Lubec, Maine. Beautiful though it was, they desired to remodel and make the property their own. George had previously renovated a House Beautiful-worthy property they owned on Capital Hill, along with a few other properties in small-town Virginia, and so they could not conceive of anyone other than George to tackle this incredible task. It was an opportunity that was difficult to pass up, and so George accepted the challenge and, together with a close friend as helper, he made the 14 hour drive and set right to work.


Two weeks in we enjoyed reuniting in New Jersey for the wedding of a family member, after which we parted ways again.


The plan had been all along for me to join George for at least a few days, and so after a month apart I flew into Bangor, Maine, to spend a few days with My Beloved. He was eager to introduce me to his new friends (he makes friends easily, everywhere he goes!) and to show me the immense beauty that is the wild, incredible, NE coast of Maine.


And so it was with great anticipation that I boarded a plane bound for Bangor, ME. But my flight was delayed, so George decided to hop in the car with his friend and client, Judy, to meet me at the airport where I had reserved a car for the 2-hour drive to Lubec.


But wait-another delay. It was a little frustrating as we were so very eager to be together, but what’s a few more hours in the grand scheme of things?


Well, with that second delay George decided we should just get a hotel room for the night, go to dinner, and enjoy the evening before making the drive the next morning. Great idea-I had no problem with that!


They always say, God is in the details…

Once I had de-boarded the plane I was overjoyed to be greeted by my sweet George and a glorious reunion ensued.


Dinner on the Penobscot River Sunday, June 9
Dinner on the Penobscot River Sunday, June 9

After checking into our room and picking up the car we proceeded to a lovely riverside restaurant for a relaxing dinner, exchanging stories and details of our time apart.


Once back at our hotel we continued in conversation and just enjoyed being together again; the evening was just glorious! ‘Nuff said.


But about 11 or so George began to experience some discomfort. He had mentioned having “episodes” of late, but he did not wish to elaborate lest it worry me. He sat in a chair, looking rather grim, and assured me that it would pass-as it always did. This was of course concerning to me.


After a little while he returned to our bed, but the feeling of unease increased and he asked me to move to the other as touch was causing him more discomfort. My concern for his well-being grew intense, to say the least. I wanted to take him to the hospital, and he agreed to get ready in case we needed to go, but in the end he refused, promising me that in the morning I could take him to urgent care to be seen. That was not quite how things went…


About midnight as we lay in one another’s arms, George went into convulsions. While I did not immediately understand what was happening, I quickly realized that George was in fact experiencing a full-blown heart attack. And what was I to do?


I tried to call 911 on my cell phone, but that didn’t work. I called the hotel’s front desk: the clerk would send the maintenance man up to help and would bring a defibrillator, as this sounded like a heart attack.


Eventually I figured out how to use the room phone to call 911, but as George was in full-blow heart attack mode by now and I couldn’t figure out how to set the phone to speaker, it felt a lost cause.


The maintenance man knocks at the door. George is, by all appearances, dying on the bed. I rush to the door only to find a bewildered man, sans promised defibrillator, saying that he didn’t know how he could help and so he would just go back to work. Back to work? Really?! I don’t think so…!


By this time, no thanks to said maintenance man, I had finally figured out how to turn the room phone to speaker.


“Get him off the bed and onto the floor,” instructed the dispatcher. I told the maintenance man, in no uncertain terms, to take my husband’s feet and help me lift him to the floor. He did so, and promptly exited the room.


The unsung hero dispatcher talked me through CPR, kept me going, not letting me give up.


“He’s gone! I know he’s gone!”, an exhausted me expressed repeatedly.


“You can do this; count with me-one, two, three…”


Sigh; I didn’t want him to be gone. I wanted him to live! But there was almost no indication that he could still be alive, save for an occasional gasp for breath; something like a deep snort/chortle/snore.


And then, after what seemed like an eternity but was probably about 20 minutes, the police arrived. Finally!


The young police officer took me into the hallway, trying to keep my mind off of what was going on inside our hotel room. “What do you think brought this on” he said. Are you kidding me…


Several minutes later the paramedics arrived and took over; it was then that I began to understand God’s presence, his providence, his care for and control over our very lives.

God is in the details!



                        ______________________________________________




Lubec, Maine. Quaint, quiet, peaceful, and beautiful.

Campobello Island is literally a stone’s throw away from Main St., just across the Quoddy Narrows.


Quoddy Lighthouse
Quoddy Lighthouse

Once a thriving fishing village rich with sardines, lobster and scallops, the town sits right at the Bay of Fundy, world famous for its tremendous tidal variation-greatest in the entire world, in fact. And then there is “Old Sow”, a massive collection of whirlpools within a whirlpool. It’s a bit scary to see, or even to be in; one can rent a boat and have the pilot take you out into the middle. Once there you find that you are literally sitting about a foot lower than the surrounding water level!


There are countless islands within Quoddy, Cobscook and South Bays. All picturesque, each one teaming with wild life and natural beauty. Whales, seal, puffins, loons, eagles, and sailing ships abound.


These days most of the young people have left for more exciting lives elsewhere, but the fishing continues. At any given time one can gaze out across the bay to see lobstermen, setting and checking their traps. And for someone who loves seafood, it actually costs less, in season, to buy a lobster than it does to pick up the equivalent in ground beef!


The client property is located outside of town, down a long road that winds along the jagged coast, abutting a gorgeous nature preserve to the south. It consists of 2 houses, one built overlooking the ocean on its own private cove and the other, the “guest house”, tucked back into a wooded area reached by walking down a beautiful, winding path. There are no other houses in view from either, just the natural beauty that is Coastal Maine. All is peaceful, all is quiet, and the view is nothing less than stunning!

Lupines blooming on the coast

Cell towers are few and far between, internet spotty. People here are not stuck to their screens but instead live quiet lives centered around fishing, hospitality, and and the enjoyment of nature.


But herein lies the rub: there is little in the form of emergency services, let alone ability to connect should such be required. It is in this where we first recognize God’s hand in our lives, more specifically the life of George: the nearest hospital is 2 hours away by car!


What a blessing that my plane was delayed, God knew right where we needed to be!

                       


______________________________________________


Finally, the emergency crew had taken over control of My Beloved. They swept into our hotel room, gurney and gear in hand, relieving the Bangor Police of the task-at-hand. As my husband was loaded into an ambulance, this very frightened wife was simultaneously put into the backseat of a police cruiser and set en route to what was to soon become apparent: a God-given plan was in place.


I wasn’t a distraught, helpless widow with a deceased husband in her arms, in an isolated, however beautiful, place.


And, Bangor Emergency Services were 1 of only 13 in the entire country that had the technology to put a body into a state of hypothermia, protecting all vital organs from damage. Knowing that George had been oxygen-deprived and was hanging onto life by a mere thread, this was critical.


But it doesn’t end there either: Northern Lights Hospital in Bangor is the region’s premiere facility for heart patients-it’s what they do. Coincidence? I think not!


Sitting in a lonely, dark waiting room, I was anxious for news of my husband’s condition. After difficulty in reaching our family I made two phone calls: one to my friend, Lorrene, who had way too much experience in these things; her husband had gone through way too much with a “bad” heart, several frightening episodes and in fact was hospitalized at that very moment, only to succumb to his condition a short time after. We cried and prayed together, which was very comforting.


The second phone was to George’s client who happened to be an emergency medicine doctor. It was she who had given him a ride down to meet me as she was hopping on a plane to return to Virginia. Judy was exceedingly helpful, an absolute blessing to me as she offered to intercede on George’s behalf, to monitor his progress and communicate with his doctors. Her help in this proved invaluable over the ensuing days, as she stayed on top of everything, relaying information back and forth, and helping me to understand what was happening.


Now obviously, after mentioning the above, George did not die that night. However, it wasn’t a simple matter of placing stints, monitoring, etc.


The surgeon came out to speak with me at about 4 a.m. Monday morning. Surgery had gone well. George had a 100% blockage in one blood vessel, 50% in another, and so he had inserted stints. The doctor assured me that all was well, George would be waking soon, and we’d be heading home by Thursday.


Except, that’s not what happened…



Part 2 to follow tomorrow

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