This is one of those odd-but-true stories people tell around the holidays. It involves me, my near-death and three plastic 3-inch figures.
Bear with me.
Seven years ago this Christmas season, my insides exploded. I thought I had severe stomach flu -- and everyone around me readily agreed. ("Oh, for sure. There's a bad strain of it sweeping through this year; my sister-in-law's cousin from Philly ... ") Despite the insane pain, I got on a jet and flew from Los Angeles to visit my parents in Florida.
A few hours after I walked in their door, I fell on my mother's kitchen floor in unbearable agony. My father raced me to the hospital -- where the doctors discovered my large intestine had blown open and was spilling bile all over my internal organs. The last thing I remember as they wheeled me into the operating room: The surgeon turned to a nurse and said, "There isn't much time."
I woke up the next day in intensive care, with a 15-inch scar up and down my mid-section. I stayed with my parents for five weeks before I was well enough to head home to L.A. During that time, something miraculous happened: I got to know my mother and father again.