Near Death Comes an Angel

Writer Gina Repass accepts NYTimes Bestseller Abigail Thomas’ challenge to condense 10 years of her life in three word sentences. It starts with attempted murder.

Mother, writer and fellow traveler Gina Repas summarizes her pivotal year in three-word prose in the following excerpt from an exercise given by NYTimes Bestselling author Abigail Thomas:

Three Little Words.

New Years Day.

Year is 2006. 31 years old.

The worst year.

Marriage on life support. Touches my knee. In church pew. Tenderly for once. I stayed cold. He pulled away. Scary ride home. Moving too fast. In between cars. In between lanes. Dropped me off. He left furious. I carried on. Another ordinary day.

Began to wonder. Not quite worry. Why should I? He always survived. This felt different. Then, phone rang. Yes, an accident. No one dead. Nurse asks questions. “Can you come? He’s not right. What is normal?” He is conscious.  Should I shower? Might be long. I go anyway.

ER is chaos. My skin crawls. Tension lives here. Pumps in veins. “Neck, neck, neck.” All he says. Pointing at neck. Eyes are vacant. He knows me? I’m not sure. “Do not move.” Doctor says sternly.

Probably brain trauma. Quietly, I doubt.

It’s mental illness. It is alcohol. And drug abuse. Accident’s a symptom. Not the cause. I know this.

Blood test confirms. Five times limit. Caused massive seizures. Should be dead. Except, he’s not.

I am done. We are over. He’ll be fine. Not with me.

I call in-laws. “Come get him.


I pack bags. His parents come. Car is filled. He resists leaving. He resents me. Yet he begs. I say “No.” I am adamant. “Can’t stay here.”

He takes Shepherd. Mojo is gone. I accept this. Price I pay. To have life. To have sanity. House is calmer.

Tomorrow, I work. And next day. Decisions to make. Things to do. Calls to lawyer. I file papers. The divorce proceeds. He’s not happy. I expected that. Not my problem. My life matters.

My life normalizes. Not for long.


Three weeks pass. My life threatened. Intuition saves me. “Come tonight, Brother.” He protects me. He protects us. Knocks him out. We are numb. We are shocked. It’s cold outside. Stitches in ambulance. Then to jail. We press charges. We see judge. Ex wears orange. Stares across courtroom. I tell truth; he tells stories. He’s a stranger.

Verdict is in. Guilty of assault. We were fortunate.


Love shows up.

He’s been there. The whole time. Name is David. Dearest friend, confidant. “I’ve been here. The whole time.” Words ring true. Best words spoken. No greater comfort.

He catches me. Gives soft landing. And I revel. In his comfort. Love, attention, play. Friendship becomes partnership. This is real. This is safe. He is kind. He is protective. Can be myself. Spirited, creative, carefree. We dance, laugh. We are fools. We love fast. We love deeply.

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