One year ago today – October 16, 2013 – I found myself lying in a hospital bed in ICU at St. Luke’s East. For months I’d been a regular in my doctor’s office as they worked to find a reason for my declining energy, pallor, and general icky feeling. At my insistence they agreed to run blood work and I remember thinking that an answer would finally be found.

I did not expect a call at 7:30 the next morning telling me to get to the ER as soon as possible.

A friend had offered to clean my house that very day, and when I called her to cancel she asked who was taking me to St. Luke’s. Her question made me pause – I hadn’t considered that anyone would want/be willing to take me. As a single woman that prefers a private, non-dramatic life – the notion of asking anyone for help felt foreign to me. She gently suggested I call a mutual friend – who also happens to be a Graceway pastor – and (of course) he was more than willing to change his day and help me.

“single only means alone if I let it.”

When all was said and done I had a rather terrifying diagnosis. Over the counter pain medication had caused ulcers in my digestive system, leading to significant blood loss. Later than night I learned that if the diagnosis hadn’t been made I had just weeks to live. The friends that sat with me throughout that day, the doctors and nurses that cared for me – they showed love on a level I’d never experienced. They were utterly selfless and demonstrated true care – their presence meant more than words can express.

That day was the beginning of a year in which God allowed me to experience what loving well means. I struggled through initial weeks of treatment and healing, and then experienced another round of testing that discovered my core medical issue. I have been in constant contact with friends willing to help when I needed a dogsitter, meals, housecleaning, rides to appointments, or someone to sit with me and listen when I felt scared. Feelings of aloneness can be overwhelming when physical health takes a downward turn; God put me in a position to learn in a very practical way that “single” only means “alone” if I let it.

Learning to love well works both ways – as I allow others to love on me I gain insight into the power that comes when I love on others. Today – October 16, 2014 – I have the privilege of volunteering at Community LINC. God has gifted me with an opportunity to love on others exactly one year after I was so loved. I can only imagine how much more I will understand and have opportunities to live this concept in another year.