Angel of Life

Adagio – Part II


Shall we begin—again…


Many of you might not have realized that you had heard that composition before.  It has been the accompaniment to some of the world and nation’s greatest public broadcasts of loss.  An anthem of sorrow and grief.   When I heard it first, I heard it in a place that began from the inside, out.  I was young, about four and wading around on a humid evening where the sun was still high and shimmering, in the long island pool of my mother’s best childhood friend.  I listened to what I should not have, and soon found myself moving from a place of safety and sinking, as I watched that sun with a trail of bubbles and fight—leaving me quickly.  When the fight left, the music began.  It came and permeated every part of me and as I looked at the sun still, the music told me it was okay to close my eyes and let go.  I knew that I might see my friend Billy again.  So that sorrow comforted me along with the music, and I was at peace. 

I do not remember being pulled from the pool.  I do remember coming to as they had me on my side and worked to get me back.  That was almost 50 years ago.  That experience in its totality has never left; the serenty that came from those moments and the memory of that music were absolutely indelible.  Descension and Ascension.  The fall before the rise…only to fall again many years later.

This past year of 2018 brought another challenge.  It all seemed pretty wonderful until that October 27thSaturday.  The world knows what happened that day.  I happened to be teaching in Squirrel Hill as I normally would.  Class had started at 10:15amand then it all began to go awry.  I will not go into detail but I will simply say that something on a cellular level changed inside of me that day.  The horror of all of it, and the fear of not knowing if he was charging toward our space as there was a temple just up our street on Shady Avenue, was something I can’t ever describe.  I am of Armenian and Jewish heritage so this hit in a way that reached so profoundly deep.  The world responded with love and helped lift this city again.  It was a time also for each of us to look within ourselves and see where we can do better.    

On December 2nd,  I was teaching my Sunday morning class and believed I was in the middle of a heart attack (considering my mother died at 51 of a massive heart attack,  I thought I was out of the woods after I passed my 51styear).  I called a dear friend and asked if they would take me to the ER.  Off we went and about 6 hours later I was sent home after many tests with the hypothesis that I was suffering from severe flu symptoms.  On Wednesday, December 5th I awoke and was delirious with fever and severely dehydrated.  I called my friend who came and carried me out of my house and drove through a raging white out to the ER after I refused an ambulance; I will never be so stupid again.  Unbeknownst to either of us, I was in full septic shock.  I was taken to the ICU right away because I was in complete organ failure with almost no blood pressure.  Cognitively I was all over the place.  My dear dear friend was next to me and when a nurse said something that bewildered me, I just remember I froze thinking I will not have time to see my children before I die!  It was so unbelievably sublime and not something that I want to claim as mine—but it was all there at that moment.  I was truly dying.  I asked my friend if that is what she meant because my personal google was coming up with only that!  And the answer given was “yes”.   So again, miracle number two happened.  I am sitting at my keyboard batting out to you all!!!!  Had I not made that call for help I would have died in my bed alone.  Many do and I am certainly not exempt.   But on that day, an angel definitely carried me and told me to “shut the f*** up!” because apparently I could not stop talking and saying why I needed to walk and if you know me well—all the inane bantering that goes on inside my head, fever or NOT!

So here I sit and guess why they believe my body was able to come back?!  That’s RIGHT!!!!  The state of strength and perseverance which my body was able to endure—they BELIEVE—was because of my (physical) yoga practice (and my herculean friend of course).  The things we can control are our physical and spiritual health and that was my yoga.  And what about the music you ask?  It was there too but not on my iphone or any other playback device…it was in me.  I heard it over and over again.  The ascension.  I was fully alive again.

This all happened in a snap so when it did, my teaching went out the window.  I was out of the ICU in 3 days and then home the following Sunday.  There was a protracted recovery because my whole body was flooded with arthritis and all kinds of after-affects.  Suddenly I was gone from Schoolhouse Yoga and no one knew why.  I had actually asked for privacy with the hope of coming back in a month or two.  That was one of the things keeping me motivated because part of my biggest “shadow” was the depression that set in from all of this.  Things took a different course at Schoolhouse and I was not able to return nor say my good-byes after over four years there.  This was pretty devastating on its own.  Students are so very special and the duration I was at Schoolhouse brought so many truly dear connections.  There is always the memory and the hope that our paths will cross again in this “little pond” that is Pittsburgh!!

My recovery has taken time but I was up and around and feeling more myself in about two months.  There is some permanent damage and some that is still hopefully going to get better.  Quite honestly, it’s like everything in life—ABSOLUTELY UNKNOWABLE!  I am not who I was, again.  The evolution continues.  There are some things I am not able to do anymore.  Accepting this is all part of my yoga practice.  Letting go is the forever challenge for all of us.

If you are wondering what caused the sepsis, they do not know.  It is a complete mystery TO THEM.  To me, I believe it was October 27th.  The trauma of that day set the stage for the breakdown of my body and spirit.  Even though my experience was more on the periphery, it should drive home to every one of you how you ABSOLUTELY need to take care of and PAY ATTENTION to your state of physical, emotional and spiritual health.  Do not brush something off when you are feeling that you have been deeply affected.  Even if others do not understand, get help.  Do what heals, not harms you.  Your body will pay the price.

The sepsis caused some pretty challenging stuff and as devastating as it seemed initially, the blessings have been just enormous.  Those who stood by and cared for and about me with calls and visits.  You are everything to me.  My circle is small but it couldn’t be more tremendous.

So, the really fantastical news is that I will see so many of the faces that I know and just adore and others who are completely new.  This is the highlight that has punctuated months of recovery and I am doing great!  There will be some who can see very easily that something is different and others who have no clue.  In any case, we shall all come as we always do, with the resolve to hold ourselves with the most precious of embraces and THE PROMISE that nothing is expected other than,

 we came

 and we were present

 in the best way

 we knew how. 

And the music lives within us all.



And a lovely little professional footnote…

I continue to teach and am moving into other teaching capacities.  The details are forthcoming as I am working in conjunction with Shawn McGill MSW Consulting LLC on further serving the autistic/intellectually challenged community/clients and also working with the neurotypicals at-large!   No one gets left out of the mix 🙃






7 responses to “Angel of Life”

  1. Sherry Golebiewski Avatar
    Sherry Golebiewski

    Hi Lizzie!! Such profound wisdom as always. We are so thankful that you are doing well after such a traumatic fall and winter. Your physical and spiritual strength, and your resilience, are truly amazing – it’s why you’ve been an inspiration to us for years now. Not to mention the kindness that warms our hearts every time we see you. You are always in our prayers and we hope this spring brings new beginnings to you! 🌻💕😘 -Carol, Sherry & Erica

    1. you ladies are all part of the treasures that schoolhouse gave (me). i will always be greatful for that and our connection. xoxo

  2. I am beyond grateful to hear that you are back and I am smiling ear to ear! You, my dear, are one of the kindest, sweetest humans I have had the pleasure of meeting! Shine bright, beautiful Lizzy! Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t. Stay strong…this world needs your good energy more than you could ever imagine! 🌹❤️ Love and hugs…Sandy

    1. dearest sandy, these words brought some tears. you put it so beautifully about strength. it is truth what you say. today was very much what i have been dreaming about for months: to be trusted, allowed the gift of leading and to be shined upon by all. to hold space.

      much love,

  3. correction: that would be “beyond” the finish time! :-/. thanks auto correct–fail!

  4. Maeve Long Hoying Avatar
    Maeve Long Hoying

    Wow what a story – glad to hear you health is doing better. On another note is the free yoga Saturday or Sunday mornings this year ? Thank you, Maeve

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. hello maeve, yes it is still happening and it starts tomorrow unless we are rained out. i post usually prior to 6:30a the morning of so social media is how the word gets out. be sure if you have no already, to hit the “follow” button on this site and the email will hit your box as soon as i update. the link goes to the Facebook page as well and a twitter message also usually goes out.

      my health is doing much better and i thank you for your well-wishes. there are far more good days than difficult ones and as always, the truly hardest parts STILL reside in the head.

      here’s hoping we have our 7th season opener tomorrow!!! plan to come early and perhaps stay behind the finish time as the shaler garden club has their 66th annual sale starting at 9a. they come early and sometimes our parking is compromised so plan accordingly and bring tarps for your green thumb splurging!

Hello and thank you for taking the time to offer feedback!

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