Ghosts from my past taught me about living in the present

Reflecting on the loss of 2 friends reminds me how quickly life can change

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by Shalana Jordan |

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banner image for Shalana Jordan's column Walking on Water, which features a woman on the left walking on a greenish body of water.

Sept. 16 marked the three-year anniversary of my first near-death experience. In September 2020, I was hospitalized and then spent almost two months in the intensive care unit with multiple organs failing. After weeks of testing and interviews, doctors determined that I had atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, a rare and damaging disease that’s forever changed my life.

But this week’s column isn’t about everything I lost, all the medical trauma I experienced, or the medical drama I still face today. It’s about a Facebook post and how quickly things can change.

It’s about messages from ghosts.

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Facebook has a fun feature called Memories, which shows users the posts they made on that day years ago. Currently, many of my Facebook Memories are from my time in the hospital. My post from Sept. 16, 2020, was a very sad one. I was “in my feelings,” talking about not having answers, being confused, and seeing other patients dying around me.

My post received a lot of comments at the time, so I started to read through them. Many were from classmates, family members, and friends who sent prayers and motivation my way. But then I saw something that stirred up unexpected emotions.

My chest felt tight as a lump formed in my throat. Tears pooled in my eyes, and my face felt hot. My stomach sank as if I’d just gone down the first drop on a roller coaster. When I saw two of the comments, I felt I was reading messages sent by ghosts.

Two of my friends who’d taken the time to read my story and comfort me in my sorrow have since died. They were younger than me, healthier than me, and had their whole lives ahead of them — but now they’re both gone. This felt surreal.

How did I miraculously survive all my health trials while these two beautiful souls died? One passed suddenly and unexpectedly, and the other passed after being sick for several months, though she’d been healthy all her life leading up to her illness. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy for Americans was 76 years old in 2021. My friends passed in their late 30s.

Plus, I feel like a schmuck for not being there for my sick friend the way she was there for me. I had no idea she’d become ill. When I called to wish her a happy birthday, she didn’t answer, so I just shared birthday wishes via social media. Little did I know she was fighting for her life in the hospital, just as I’d done.

My friend was always kind, putting others’ needs before her own. But I wish I’d known she was sick before she died. I wish I could’ve sat with her, talked to her, and been there for her.

It astounds me how life can change in an instant. One minute, someone can be happy and full of life, and then, suddenly, they’re gone. Tomorrow isn’t promised, which is all the more reason to live in the moment.

Note: aHUS News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of aHUS News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to aHUS.


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