Anyone who has done much hospital calling knows about the awakening that often accompanies serious illness or injury. All of a sudden, someone who ran a small business (or a large household) cannot walk to the bathroom unassisted. Sitting upright in a chair for two hours becomes a full day’s work, and tomorrow’s goal includes eating solid food. The simplest mechanics of staying alive require heroic effort. Without all kinds of help, no one could survive.
If you happen to have been the patient yourself, then you also know what a revolution of values can occur during such a time. Work is removed from the driver’s seat and put in the trunk, while a succession of loved ones—many of whom you have been meaning to see for months—show up with food, flowers, lame jokes and magazines. You wonder why it took this crisis for you to remember how much you care about them. How long has your heart been running on fumes?