Three years ago on Tax Day I got one of those horrific phone calls you hope you never get. I was driving back to NJ from Vermont when my friend Brian Horton called. I had helped Brian take his wife, my co-worker, Marilyn Dillon to the hospital after she had a major MS attack. She had been doing fine in the hospital but on that Sunday her kidneys essentially exploded. Brian could barely talk as he tried to tell me what was going on. The doctors were fairly sure she wouldn’t make it through the night. I was about three hours away from the hospital and got there in two hours.
Brian was distraught, as could be expected. They finally took Marilyn into surgery later that evening. She was in a coma and they let me and Brian go along as they rolled her to the operating room. Robert Wood Johnson hospital in New Brunswick is one of the best around and the building is a combination of new additions and old brick buildings. We wound through the bowels of the old part, with hallway so narrow two beds couldn’t pass. We got to the OR door, which was as far as they would let Brian and I go. We both stood there, not knowing what to do next as we waiting for the door to open. Finally, they came out to take Marilyn inside.
Forever etched in my mind was the look on Brian’s face as he kissed his bride. It was the unmistakable look of a man thinking this may be the last kiss he ever gives his wife. It ripped my heart out.
Today Robin and I were lucky to have dinner with Marilyn and Brian. She was in a coma for months and in the hospital for seven months. She fought harder than anyone I had ever seen. She is still fighting and showed off tonight by walking from the car to the restaurant using her walker rather than taking the wheelchair. You can read their blog about her amazing journey here. She is great fun and an inspiration. Frequently when I’m feeling lousy I stop to think “What would Dillon do?” The answer always gives me a reason to press on. Thank you Marilyn.