The Wake-Up Call We Never Saw Coming


I realize this is supposed to be an insightful blog about mommyhood. I also know that marriages get lost in the chaos of parenting and sometimes a wake-up call is necessary. Two weeks ago, our family, my marriage, got a big wake-up call.

My husband, Heath, had a heart attack. He was seven hours away, on a job site, 75 minutes from any hospital. He kept me updated with phone calls and texts as the day progressed. The diagnosis went from “precautionary” to “observation,” and finally, to “surgery” at 8:00 that evening. He had 100% blockage in his Right Descending Artery and a stent was put into place.

When you hear heart attack victim, a mental image may form in your mind. The true picture of him may surprise you:

The Wake-Up Call We Never Saw Coming
photo by e.bea photography

Age: 36

Smoker: No

Weight: Normal

Physically Active: Ish (You know, outdoorsy without any structured activity)

Dietary Habits: 70% Clean

Family History: Heart Disease on both sides

It has all been very bizarre and shocking. We have a new normal filled with cardiologists and at-home blood pressure monitoring. The luxury of partial clean eating is out the window and we will now tighten down the nutritional regiment and figure out medications and supplements. Heath has become a walking Public Service Announcement for his buddies: GET YOUR HEART CHECKED! He is still off work and fighting the stir-crazies, all the while enjoying the ability to not think about what’s going on at the office. Life sure looks different, but we are grateful for it.

So much has happened in the last two weeks that I could write a series. This is what I know- beyond a shadow of a doubt- without our faith and our people, this would have consumed me. It would have overtaken me. I would be riddled with fear and anxiety and would be living just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Instead? Just perfect peace and overwhelming support.

I realize people come from different places in the world of religion and faith background. I’m not going to advertise a particular church or denomination. I will say this: I have been a Christ Follower for over three decades. I have learned all about Jesus and how much He loves me and will take care of me. And I have experienced some of that over the years. But sooooo much of what I have been taught over the years became a reality in those dark moments without any answers. Kind of like a student teacher, stepping into the classroom for the first time. She’s been taught some good stuff, strong theory, but has no idea if it will work when she is standing face-to-face with twenty 2nd graders. My Truth? My “theory?” It works. Every bit of it.

And my people? There are not adequate words. Let me just throw out a few:

  • One of Heath’s two best friends lives in Atlanta, got in the car in a skinny minute, drove 1.5 hours, because I needed someone to lay eyes on my husband. He sat with him until 2:00 am and then drove home to teach a class at 8:00.
  • The three girls that showed up within 5 minutes of the “he’s having a heart attack” text and arranged childcare, looked for flights, notified teachers, and activated meal trains.
  • Heath’s co-workers that arranged flights, extended hotel reservations, and took every bit of the workload stress immediately.
  • My co-workers who sprung into action covering my class and sending the “don’t worry about anything here” texts.
  • The chick who turned her phone back on after being on a flight, got the message, came straight to my house, slept on my couch, and got my dad and me to the airport at 4:45 the next morning.
  • The friend, who is from that part of Georgia, that activated his people, and had visitors stop in and meals delivered to us in the hospital.
  • The four ladies who sent a house cleaner while I was gone so I didn’t have to come home to a gross bathroom.
  • Our parents, who dropped everything to make sure they were in the right place.
  • The COUNTLESS phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook posts, prayers…

Relationships take work. Community is hard. But it is necessary and invaluable in a crisis. While sitting in the hospital one night, Heath and I began to process all that had happened to us and for us. We both cried as we recounted the way we had felt so loved and so cared for. And he said this, “Jill, all of this is a testament to your hard work and persistence in building and maintaining relationships.” I could go on and on about why our culture doesn’t seem to value real, authentic relationships (that’s a whole other blog post), but in that moment, I was tremendously grateful that we do.

Girls, I have learned so much in two weeks. I could write a book. (No thank you.) Yes, get your heart checked. Yes, stay on top of your health. Yes, check your habits. But above all? The most important?

Dig into your faith and gather your people.

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Jill Forbes
Jill grew up in the Washington, DC area and migrated south for college. She has a degree in Religious Education from Gardner-Webb University and also got her MRS. degree there. She married a fine southern gentleman, Heath, in 2001 and they have three kids: Will, Micah, and Lydia. Traveler. Homemaker(ish). TV watcher. Crafter. Natural birth advocate. Spanish speaking wannabe. Minivan driver. Organic shopper. Beach lover. Mosquito hater. Jill's resume is littered with randomness. She has recently hung up her hat in the preschool world to write and speak and be able to greet her kids with fresh gluten free cookies and almond milk, as they joyfully skip through the door after school. (Mom of the Year!) Check out her Interrupted Life at


  1. Jill, we have a few similar moments in our lives, first with my husband’s acute onset of diabetes and then with own adventure with Guianne Barre Syndrome. Both the people in our lives and our faith were the anchors in the storm. I said a prayer for your family.

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