My final column, perhaps

On December 7th I’ll be checking into the hospital to undergo a cardiac ablation procedure, a process of inserting electrodes and catheters into a blood vessel in my groin, snaking them up and into my heart, and using them to cauterize some confused heart cells that are causing me to have repeated episodes of super-rapid heartbeats called ventricular tachycardia. At least, that’s the plan.

The physician performing the procedure is confident of a positive outcome, which is always a welcome thing to hear. Statistics reveal that one-in-a-hundred ablation patients die on the table, which as odds go are pretty good; one-in-a-million sounds better. On the other hand, since being born sets the odds of dying someday at 100%, statistics offer cold comfort.

The Buddhist Heart Sutra says there’s “no birth and no cessation,” the point being that whatever sense of autonomy or separation I feel is like a dream. The Great Unity is perpetually unbroken; what looks like coming and going is simply how things appear. I’ll remind myself of this as the anesthesiologist puts me under.

Death, of course, is life’s constant companion; it can intrude at any time. My powers of denial push this truth to the side much of the time, but when I’ve confronted various cardiac events and procedures in the past I’ve inevitably found myself pondering the end and so it is today. I’m not scared for me; dead’s ok, very, very quiet. I do worry about those who depend upon me: my fabulous wife of 46 years, my wonderful children and grandchildren. I’ve tried to live responsibly, and not leave them in the lurch. They’re all smart and loving people and will take care of each other, but still.

I’ve been so lucky in love; first my parents, then my sister, my wife, our two daughters and three grandchildren. There’s been ups and downs, of course, but love was never in question. This is not true for everyone, and my gratitude runs deeply. In my imperfect way, I’ve returned that love best as I can, and hope I’ll be forgiven for my failures. And my love of friends and their love in return; an unexpected miracle.

Many people assume my 30-year involvement in our community – as a citizen activist, city council member, mayor, planning commissioner and so forth – is about satisfying my ego. I guess there is some element of that, but community work is so often difficult and disappointing, ego is the least of it. The best of it is experiencing how it is to extend caring beyond those I love to the community around me, and the way it builds my strength and persistence. At times I’m fiercely protective, but not for me; I apologize to those my passion may have offended. My home is not four walls, but an entire city, an entire valley and beyond. If I’ve learned anything about love and caring, is that it’s boundless.

So here it is, my final column perhaps, just in case my good luck doesn’t hold. I wouldn’t want to leave without saying thank you and goodbye. And if everything goes well, and I hope it does, you’ll read about it here.

10 thoughts on “My final column, perhaps

  1. All the best to you, Larry.
    I, too, have supraventriculartachacardia or SVT. A couple episodes have sent me to the ER. It’s scary when it happens, because I’m never quite sure whether the case is
    “This is It!!” Thank G for modern medicine. I have a Mitral Valve Clip in my heart that was placed with a wire through the groin and into the heart.

    I look forward to seeing many more columns from you.
    You will note my email address has “lock” in it. Stands for Lockert

  2. Dear Lar!
    Yikes! You always had a sense of the dramatic.
    I predict a highly successful procedure! I will also put you on my highly effective prayer list (all those deceased family clergy). I think you have years to go, but I will take this seriously nevertheless. You are not done!
    Big hugs

  3. A heartfelt and touchingly honest piece, my friend. And a fitting eulogy—one I hope you can archive and use again many years from now.
    The journey is always just beginning. Safe travels!

  4. LARRY,
    Cardiac ablation is a piece of cake.
    Take if from someone who has never had it done.
    Best wishes. I know you will do well.
    And from all of us: Thank YOU!

  5. Dear Larry, As I was cleaning out the “ art closet” last week I happened upon a sign that read “I’m just wild about Larry” from an old campaign. I will of
    course be keeping the sign.
    I wish you the best with you heart procedure and look forward to your next visit online essay. 💕 Mj

  6. Best wishes for a successful and problem-free procedure! I hope you are back next week, or whenever you feel up to it! Happy Hannukah!
    Scott Hales.

  7. Did you know you’ve been a teacher, an inspiration? Yep. I read and save pretty much everything you publish – for the wisdom and spirit. You’ve certainly paid it forward & only hope I can now send a little back. As others are offering, I too will pitch in with the healing thoughts for an optimal outcome – and will look for word that you’re back at that typewriter!

  8. Larry,

    You have already earned my respect for being a person of integrity. After reading your column, I double down on this sentiment. As time goes by I realize the wisdom of accepting the inevitable with eyes open. At the same time, I am keeping you in my heart with wishes for a a successful procedure and recovery.

    Best, Mike Basta

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