Toni Rossi, Director of Communications
February 22, 2013, began as an ordinary day for Kathy Izard and her husband Charlie. While visiting their daughter in Massachusetts, Charlie went to work out in the hotel gym, but soon returned, complaining of arm and chest pain. He had recently been given a clean bill of health by his cardiologist, so Kathy thought the problem might just be stress. Charlie lay down, and Kathy noticed his arms had turned white, as if there was no blood running through them. Hours later, he underwent emergency surgery in the hospital for a shocking problem.
During a Christopher Closeup interview about her memoir “The Last Ordinary Hour,” Kathy recalled, “[Charlie had] a rare disease…called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). It caused the artery in his heart to collapse for no reason…It actually can happen in any artery in your body. It can split and dissect at any time…Our life went from relatively ordinary to radical uncertainty on how we were going to live with this disease, with the fear that it could happen again at any moment.”
When a person of faith enters a time of great darkness, it’s not uncommon to think, “God is supposed to protect my family from this because I’m a good person.” As a Christian who worked to help the homeless and mentally ill in Charlotte, North Carolina, that was the case with Kathy. She told me, “I had come from a place of little faith. Then, working with the homeless…I thought I’d found my way home to a real belief in God. But what I realized is, I believed in the Sunshine God, the God of the miracles that were showing up for the homeless. And really, I didn’t have a faith in the God that was going to be with me in the dark.”
One of the sources from which Kathy’s beliefs about God started evolving came through the writings of Father Richard Rohr. He helped her realize that tragedies occur in every life. Kathy explained, “When we’re putting our lives back together, growing deeper in our faith, allowing people to help us, and realizing we’re not alone – that we’re in this together and we’re here with God and grace – that is a much deeper way of living.”
Kathy progressed in her journey of faith, but there were still challenging times. One day, Charlie was in the hospital again and this time flatlined before doctors brought him back to life. Because of the situation, the hospital sent a priest to the room to be a source of spiritual comfort for Kathy. His presence, however, brought out Kathy’s rage at God – and she railed and ranted at him for some time.
Kathy recalls, “That priest did one of the most holy things you can do. He was just present, just with me…He didn’t even understand where my anger was coming from. But I think sometimes that’s the most holy work, just to be with someone in their hard times. I believe that’s what happens with God, too. I might’ve been angry with Him, but I don’t think I was ever alone. And I don’t think He ever left us.”
Kathy concluded, “[Charlie] miraculously survived in 2013. We’ve had ups and downs, but…he’s been allowed to be here for the graduation of all four of our daughters, a wedding of another daughter…I say a prayer every night and morning: ‘Thank You for this day. Thank You he’s still here. Thanks for all the extra time we’ve been given.’”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note FINDING HEALING AFTER TRAGEDY OR LOSS, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: email@example.com