‘My husband is still alive because of a nightstand. A nightstand I purchased 6 months prior, when we moved into our dream home.’: Wife credits ‘magic, miracles’ for her husband still being alive after his heart stopped

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“Do you believe in magic?

What about miracles?

I’m not sure I did until a piece of furniture saved my husband’s life.

It was just your typical Saturday morning. I was asleep, still recovering from a c-section just six weeks prior, when I awoke to the worst kind of alarm clock imaginable: a thud. The sound of my healthy, thirty-one-year old, former athlete husband hitting the floor and going unresponsive.

This is the kind of thing that happens when you have an unknown heart condition. One that has made your ventricle walls three times as thick as they should be. A heart that’s overworked, and tired, and prone to stopping without notice.

A heart that wouldn’t have restarted without a fortuitous piece of furniture.

You see, my husband is still alive because of a nightstand. A nightstand I purchased six months prior when we moved into our dream home. When life was full of white picket fences and perfection.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

We wouldn’t see that home for quite some time after that Saturday morning heart stop. I’d sleep on a tiny hospital couch for weeks on end and watch my husband learn to walk again. I’d bathe him, and feed him, and miss my babies tremendously. I wouldn’t remember much—too many medical terms and specialists with complicated titles to count—but I would remember one man. The physician who said I’d be a widow without that wooden nightstand.

Because when my husband’s heart stopped, and his body dropped, he didn’t just fall gracefully to the ground. He hit our bedside table and broke his back.

And that break, that jolt of a spine shattering, restarted a heart that said it was done.


Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

And then there’s the magic.

A few years have passed, and my husband still hasn’t. He has a device impacted into his chest and will need a transplant to continue living. We’ve already experienced a secondary stop and another survival. Every day we hold our breaths, never knowing what’s behind a doctor’s visit or a common cold, but we are all alive nonetheless and that deserves to be celebrated.

So, every July 16th, the day my husband almost died, we honor his life.

This year we celebrated with his trusty old hospital tray and Chinese food in bed—because that’s his favorite, and if all that sodium doesn’t kill him, I think he’s destined to live forever.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

What a gift to joke, and laugh, and live a with a little less fear again.

What a miracle that he’s here to watch his children grow.

There are still some days where the ‘what if’s’ grab me. If he’s late to get home, my mind often tries to convince me he’s dead behind the wheel, not just stuck in traffic. I guess that’s the PTSD one experiences from almost losing their spouse. Our family will forever be changed by unexpected news.

But then you crack open a fortune cookie and are reminded that sometimes life moves in your favor. Sometimes, when you’re on your last serving of hope, you get a wink that everything will be okay.

On the three-year anniversary of my husband’s heart stopping, his fortune said this:

‘You will live a long, prosperous life.’


Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

In your darkest storm, when your ship is overturned by a rocky sea—when you’re drowning in a new diagnosis, or a sick child, or your own mental illness—look for the life rafts. They will appear.

And when they do, cling on and let yourself be carried into brighter days.

Furniture and fortunes.

Magic and miracles.

They are everywhere.”

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan
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