The Gift of Honesty: How Truth Transformed a Child’s Perspective on Dad’s Survival

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Hi. I’m a kid. 

FYI, I’m also funny. 

That probably isn’t the introduction you’re used to, but it turns out it’s important. Because, as you may have experienced, newfangled kids like me think a bit differently than you adults. 

But that doesn’t mean we’re incapable of processing important, if not scary, moments in our lives. Even so, we can still use help. It just requires a little inside knowledge.

So, I suppose I’ll be your guide today. I’m here to quickly talk about something different than you’d expect to hear from an eleven-year-old—my dad’s cardiac arrest

Three years ago, when I was eight years old, my father almost died in his sleep of a mysterious medical condition.

I know. Shocking. 

I will talk about how I, as a kid, interpreted the situation and what particularly helped me. My mom calls the trauma-response ‘cave’ she entered shortly after what happened, ‘The Quiet Place.’ 

My cave was more of a tunnel. The further I progressed, the more intensely I understood what happened and my own experience.

Here, I’ll tell you a story.

On the morning of May 11th, 2020, I fully expected to wake up and go along with my day like a normal Monday.

EEEEEH- WRONG. Not a normal Monday.

As it turned out, my mom woke up at four in the morning to my dad having a cardiac arrest. 

But I didn’t know that at the time. From what I can remember, they’d told us he got sick and needed equipment they only had at the hospital. No one knew if he’d be okay. BZZ- important detail: they didn’t say that he’d be okay, either. 

Now, this seems like a mean thing to do at first glance. But I’m actually just so incredibly grateful for it. Because what if he hadn’t been okay? What if his condition got worse? What would they tell us then? 

My point is: what they told us was the truth. Or at least as much of the truth as they could say. 

And afterward, when everything proved to be alright, they said another very important thing, and I quote: 

“Ask whatever questions you want, and we’ll answer them.” 

I remember not having many. They had informed us well and made sure we felt safe and happy that he was alright. 

But this simple sentence, said by so many people in our family, made all the difference. I realized this wasn’t some hush-hush topic. It was an important event that happened in our lives. 

The point to focus on wasn’t that his heart stopped; it was that he survived it. And in turn, it wasn’t only my dad who survived the cardiac arrest but all of us. 

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We did it. We pushed through confusion, worry, and everything else. 

We are co-survivors

My mom. My sister. Our grandparents. And everyone he knew. And that ordeal is still relevant in our lives. It taught us things — lessons unspoken and emotions that can’t be put into words. 

I learned that the little things make a difference

Simply understanding something can be enough to change an event’s impact on your life. People aren’t kidding when they say knowledge is power. For me, knowledge was the difference between an infinite, dark wormhole and the light at the end of the tunnel.

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