My little brother, (41 years old) had an earthquake in his heart over the weekend and we were all shook up.

He was standing at a bar ready to sip a beer as my sister-in-law was ordering some food when he suddenly felt dizzy and broke out in a cold sweat.

He said, “I better go outside and get some fresh air,” when he fell to the floor and lost conciousness.

When my sister-in-law implored the bar’s patrons to call 911, they were apprehensive because -afterall, it is a bar. They thought he had passed out drunk. Of course, he had not even sipped one alcoholic beverage yet.

Before he knew it, an ambulance arrived and on the way to the hospital they administered an EKG. The paramedic told my brother that the results were “text book.” Everything seemed just fine.

What would you do? Think: perhaps it is best to go home – it must have been a false alarm or a stomach flu, or something.

My sister-in-law insisted that he stay and the paramedics suggested that he stay and check his blood enzyme levels.

So, he did.

In the emergency room they drew a blood sample.

Over the next few hours they drew several blood samples and by the course of the night and the next morning determined that he had had a heart attack.

My sister-in-law called my dad and he called me. You know when you hear bad news how your body tenses up and some automatic pilot survival switch comes on? I quickly found a flight that left for Las Vegas in a few hours time and threw some clothes in a suitcase.

I rented a car on my cell phone on the way to the airport and in a few hours found myself at the Budget Rental car in Las Vegas while the attendant smiled and asked if I would like to upgrade my rental vehicle for a fun weekend in Vegas.

I told him that my little brother had a heart attack. I was not there for fun.

Tubes snaked out from his body and he looked tired. So tired. But he was happy I was there.

My parents arrived 45 minutes later by car. Driving in from San Diego. Though we were all together, but under the most awful circumstances.

He would have a procedure the next day that would determine what exactly happened. Would he need stents? Would he need open heart surgery? How extensive was his damage?

All I could think was: JUST LIVE.

I spent the night at their house while my sister-in-law faithfully remained by the side of my brother. Their little dog, Nacho curled up by my leg and slept beside me while their cats howled all night as though they sensed some impending disaster.

You know, kind of like right before an earthquake and all the animals start reacting – barking, howling, screeching – warning us to take cover, to act.

Two nurses came to wheel his bed to the surgery room. They allowed us to stay in a private room. One of those stark, cold rooms where they tell bad news. You know the kind.

Saying goodbye is never easy. Especially if you think the goodbye could be – perhaps forever, (at least in this old world- till the new one comes).

An hour later he looked good laying flat on his back after the surgery. He was 99% blocked and another branch of arteries are 70% blocked. He will need another surgery in 3 weeks to correct the blockage. Although he has a stent to keep things open and flowing properly…

He lived.

So my little brother had an earthquake in his heart and although we have all been shaken by it let’s all be sure that we listen to the warnings – to watch what we eat, our stress level, our diets.

Most of all, let us never waste one minute.

Each and every one of them are precious.