On April 15th of this year, I received a message from my oldest friend, Rob Schultze, informing our small group chat that he was undergoing emergency heart surgery. My stomach sank when I read the news, and it immediately sank deeper as I realized I had seen it too late for him to receive my message back.
I met Rob in the summer after 2nd grade. We both attended the Oconto County 4-H summer camp at Camp Bird, and on the bus ride home, I guess you could say I got the “seat’s taken” treatment (Rob’s my Jenny in this scenario). For the duration of our 40-minute ride home from Crivitz, Rob told me all about the film he was making, James Bond Jr. After reading the entire 2-page, large-font script from front to back, I was sold. I had never been in a movie before!
Our parents swapped numbers, and 20-some years later, I found myself staring at a my phone, unsure if I would ever hear Rob’s voice again.
Earlier that night, after experiencing chest pains, Rob had driven himself to the hospital. Doctors determined he had suffered what is called an aortic dissection. His aorta ruptured, creating a tear down the entire left side of his body, from heart to leg.
Rob went on to spend over seven weeks in the hospital, including several days under heavy sedation while doctors monitored his open chest. It took nine surgeries, a pacemaker, and a lot of patience, but Rob slowly came back to us. As soon as Rob was well enough to take company, I flew out to California with our mutual best friend Josh. I will never forget that trip.
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