Monday nights we get together for fun, drinks, sometimes Bocce, sometimes Monday Night Football, sometimes Cribbage. It’s always fun, and a nice way to shake off whatever Monday has thrown at each of us. All you guys out there may or may not appreciate this, but I can’t say enough about having an intimate group of male friends.
Last night we welcomed Stephen Rose back into the fray. It was a glorious moment of normalcy. Each of us played Bocce. Stephen Rose and I teamed up against Brian Rybarik and Chris Restle, then against Stephen Balsley and Chris Restle, and we won each match handily.
Stephen Rose made a few poor shots and said with a smirk, “You know guys, you’ll have to excuse me. I just recently had a heart attack.” Well , moments later he made a flurry of incredible, impossible, point-scoring shots to put us back in the lead, at which point we all took away his “heart-attack-excuse card”.
We drank club sodas or tonic water with limes, deviating from our regular helping of beer. Stephen is understandably frustrated at the cautious pace of his recovery. He’d prefer to get back at it full speed ahead but his doctors have him taking small steps.
It’s great to be with Stephen in normal settings around home. He asked me where we should go fishing. I said Tainter Creek. Hopefully we’ll knock that milestone off of his recovery list in the very near future.
Enjoy the photos!
Tom, Stephen R, Stephen B, Chris, and Brian on the Bocce Court
Brian and Stephen B in a critically important match – Monrovian vs. Commonwealther
Chris and Stephen R: Vafanapoli!
Chris Restle trying to figure out his form. Vafanculo!
This guy’s got it figured out. Notice the slight rise in the middle finger. Molto Finezze!
Ginger takes three points! Bene.
These are good times.
Origami Yoda Vs. Darth Paper, by Bode Anderson-Brown
I had a great visit this evening with Stephen. He was as sharp and as lucid as I’ve ever seen him, and I do mean ever.
A wave of joy and relief washed over me as I made my way home after sitting with him over his dinner. Up until three days ago he says he hasn’t really been aware of what’s been happening. Only recently has he been able to recall things that happened one or two days ago. And indeed when I spoke with him on the phone this morning he recalled our interaction the previous day.
To be sure, challenges await him, but he says he’s ready to get back to it, with what feels like a new chance. I can’t wait to move forward alongside him!
Today was a very normal day. I did my morning routine (coffee, huevos rancheros, hug kids, kiss wife, drive to work), accomplished a good deal at work, did some more work, got some groceries, came home, opened a beer, had dinner with my family, played some Star Wars Monopoly, served up ice cream cones, read to my kids, and poured myself a glass of bourbon.
I also managed to sneak in an hour of fishing on Black Earth Creek. Can you believe that?
Amazing creatures, those trout are…
The last 15 days have been a mix of hell and heaven. My buddy Stephen Rose went from running wind sprints to having a heart attack to being dead to being in a coma to being interactively impermeable to smiling to speaking to trying to get out of bed by himself and now to being transferred from the Intensive Care Cardiac unit to the rehab wing of the hospital, where he is expected to make a significant recovery in spite of the ordeal his heart and his brain have gone through. Whew.
A brown beauty on Black Earth Creek
So, back to my day. It was normal. I felt good about getting a lot of work done. I felt good about making a good dinner for my kids. I felt good about Stephen moving to rehab. And I felt really good about catching a couple of trout on my favorite Driftless creek.
I don’t know what to say about this picture. I’m feeling good, okay?
Raise your glass tonight, whatever you might be drinking, to Stephen Rose. The man has done a lot in his 42 years of life and apparently he is not done. If that’s not something worth toasting, I don’t know what is.
Well, my friend Stephen Rose is back. Last Monday his heart stopped for at least twenty minutes. He was in a coma for a few days. When he woke he was not responsive. And then, suddenly, he was.
It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever endured, but the day I saw him give a faint smile, my heart hoped for more. A day later a few words. And yesterday, unmistakable, unequivocal, unambiguous Stephen.
Mid-morning I went to Stephen’s bedside before going back to work, and told him that I would see him again later. I had no idea what his response would be. I didn’t even know if he’d recognized me.
Me: “Stephen, buddy, I’ll see you later. Okay?”
Stephen: “Well… Will there be beer later?”
Me: “Oh yeah man. There’ll be beer later. Good malty, hoppy beer. And maybe some bourbon too!”
At the suggestion of bourbon Stephen’s eyes got wide as saucers, and my heart soared.
As of last night Stephen had squeezed both of his hands and moved one leg. Wonderful signs for a man whose body has been so fully utilized and applied toward action and creation.
Stephen’s friend and mine, Chris R, retold a discussion he and Stephen’s younger son Joe had had yesterday evening. Chris said to Joe, “Well Joe, it looks like you’ve had a pretty good day.” To which Joe responded, “Yeah, I guess so.” [pause] “And my dad’s getting better too!”
Make no mistake, I’m elated and euphoric that my friend is alive. I had started imagining a life without him and it was a very tough pill to swallow. But I see the road ahead for Stephen and his family and it may not be a smooth one. To use a metaphor, it may look a lot more like the rough trails that line the Brule River than a road.
And I have to imagine Stephen is not at all excited to wake up after his workout last Monday to find himself in a hospital bed. While we’re all standing around cheering for his reawakening, he’s saying to himself, “What the fuck…?”
Stephen, I love you buddy, along with many many others. I, we, are ready to help. Whatever the future brings you’ve taught us all to cherish what’s really important, to not take it for granted. I pray (yes, I said pray) that the rest of your life will be seasoned with the realization that for a moment, you were not of this earth, and that we really, truly get one shot at life.
But for now, one day at a time. Okay?
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Stephen Rose approaches Camp Creek