The Night I Died (Conclusion): Listen To Your Heart

November 21, 2011

For the next three days, my family surrounded me at the hospital.

Lauren, Tabitha, Cari, Heather, Brenna, Eli, and Carter sat with me, laughed with me, and quite literally willed me back to life and the living.

As they live in Portland, Heather and Eli had met Lauren and Carter at the hospital as soon as I was brought in. As soon as she heard from Lauren, Tabitha leaped out of bed in San Antonio, Texas and headed to the airport. Cari too found the first flight available out of Los Angeles and arrived at almost the same time Tabitha did. Brenna, who is in makeup school in L.A. where she literally can’t miss a day of instruction, went to the airport that night after school and arrived home just before midnight.

We have an amazingly close and intensely loving family so having their energy around me was like breathing in pure love. To quote Lou Gehrig: “I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Lauren read me many of the emails and comments that had been posted on Facebook. To each and every one of you who held me in your prayers, please know how humbled and eternally grateful I am for your support. Every comment has a special meaning to me. Every one.

During my hospital stay (and I need to add a special hug of gratitude to the nurses at Meridien Park Hospital who are all angels of mercy and healing), Lauren reminded me of something so magical and astounding that it sounds too perfect and beautiful to have really happened. But it did.

On the day of my heart attack, the November volume of our Spiritual Cinema Circle was mailed to all of our subscribers. All of the films on that volume were chosen months before around a singular theme, one that was the center of the discussion of each film on the volume, and was also the actual title of the feature film on the volume:

Listen to Your Heart.

If you put that in a book or script, many people would roll their eyes and tell you “that kind of stuff doesn’t really happen.” But it did.

And just in case that wasn’t a clear enough message, one of my cardiologists also revealed to me that he and his wife had been longtime members of our Spiritual Cinema Circle community!

OK, universe, I finally get it. Thank you so much. Message gratefully received and acknowledged.

When I have been the happiest, most centered, and most productive in my life,  I have indeed listened to my heart, not the “logic and reason” of my head. By refusing to heed my wife’s pleas and warnings, I had indeed both  figuratively and literally ignored my heart (which in so many ways is actually synonymous with my wife).

No more.

So much of this story remains to unfold…so much to evolve through…but this much I have learned:

Someone once said that we know it is our heart speaking to us when we feel inspired or love or both. And I resolve now to always listen to my heart.

Throughout this experience, I have felt the love of and for my amazing wife, family, friends and our wonderful Spiritual Cinema Circle community. That love has in turn inspired me in ways that will resonate, both internally and externally, every day for the rest of my life.

I am excited to live each moment from now on in gratitude and wonderment at this amazing gift that we call…life.

With love.

Stephen Simon


{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Clark November 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

God Bless Stephen,

I just was able to rejoin SCC, and am privileged to be of support for you. When for these many years I have felt supported by you.

We are all as mountain climbers, belaying each other as we ascend. Thanks for sharing the honesty of your realizations and most of all Love!

Happiest of Holidays to you and your family, starting with the Gratitude of Thanksgiving!

~ Jay


Stephen Simon November 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

Hi Jay. As always, great to hear from you…welcome back to SCC as well and happy turkey day to you too!


Rick Behm November 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

Thank you so much for sharing ALL of this. I think it’s an important, wonderful story. Hope you are 100% and enjoying every minute of every day.


Stephen Simon November 21, 2011 at 11:06 am

Thanks so much, Rick…I am indeed enjoying life in a wholly new and wonderful way.


Asha Hawkesworth November 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

Wonderful, Stephen.

While it was hard and frankly terrible in the moment, I look back at my own adventures in the cardiac ward and see that it was a healing process. A release of old energy, and some very clear messages. It was also a useful instruction in “I am not in control,” which is hard for a reforming control freak like myself to get at times. I wonder what you’ll discover in the next few months or years as you look back on this with a renewed perspective. I’m hoping that you’ll share that with us in a blog, too. I believe that one person’s healing is everyone’s healing. It’s beautiful, really. Big hugs.


Stephen Simon November 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

Thanks so much, Asha….you and Ahnna have been so wonderfully supportive of Lauren and I throughout this whole experience….bug hugs back to you both!


Cinda Stevens Lonsway November 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

Again Stephen, thank you for sharing your heart with us. BUT, remember to be gentle with yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself, meaning if you made mistakes, love those mistakes for getting you to this point of understanding and revelation. Heart is Love, Love is Heart, so don’t be frustrated, or embarrassed, or ashamed, or say ‘if only…’, it does your heart no good. Your gratitude is your gift and your reminder….


Stephen Simon November 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

Thanks so much, Cinda, for your support of both me and Lauren through this whole experience. Big hug.


Eliana Guimaraes November 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

Life is just an extraordinary journey regardless of the roller coaster ride it sometimes places us on. And the one thing, the one gift, I should say, is to listen to our hearts. This reminds me so much of the film Hereafter directed by Clint Eastwood. What happens in life is so much more as it prepares us for the next chapter. Clint has this innate ability to trust and work with the emotional tone of the story and you see it happen seamlessly across his films. This ability takes us to the heart of the story and we know that he chose to listen to the heartbeat of the storyline. And that for me is amazing as it reveals how one sees the world.

As Robert Altman said `Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes`. And I believe that life is a book with infinite chapters that we get to write as we rediscover and connect with our innermost.

Take good care of yourself, my good friend!
much love and hugs to you and all your family,


Stephen Simon November 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

Hi Eliana….yes, Lauren and I have thought often about Hereafter, a movie we love and have seen several times..and that’s a really great Altman quote as well…gotta remember that one!–as always, thank you so much for your support…big hug…Stephen


Mary Knapp November 21, 2011 at 11:40 am

Hello Stephen from Sweden. So many people have so many wise, important and profound things to say to you. All I know to say is that which comes earnestly from my heart to yours. I feel strongly that you were made for these times; that we are all in this together; with much left to do to shore up this world on so many fronts; making it truly inhabitable for as many as we possibly can. We have the power and the resources to do it and you and your unique contribution are badly needed. I am so selfishly glad you decided to stay. Much love to you from your SCC devotee and biggest fan.


Stephen Simon November 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

Thanks so much, Mary…I too have been feeling how much of my life has been pointed at and for these very times…again, thanks so much for your personal support and also your support of SCC, which is so near and dear to my heart…


Ahnna Hawkesworth November 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I just wanted to mention that we too rejoined SCC in time to get this issue, and the irony was not at all lost on us. You know that they would laugh you out of the office in Hollywood for such a sappy plot twist, but I think you should do it anyway. 🙂


Stephen Simon November 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

So glad to hear that you rejoined SCC…and, yes, truth is always stranger than fiction indeed….hope you, Asha, Harry, and Wren have a joyous Thanksgiving!


Chris November 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm

We were watching ‘Listen to your Heart’ on our SCC DVD and shortly afterwards I caught a thread on Facebook about what had just happened to you. We were first dismayed and then uplifted as we read your story and are both so glad you are listening to your heart.
I’m sure much more will come from all of this but for now we send you love and the best of wishes for a full recovery
Chris & Chris


Stephen Simon November 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Hola to the Chris’s….thanks so much for your kind note…as always, it’s great to hear from you both…I am feeling just great and beyond grateful for everything and everyone in my life….have a great Thanksgiving–which may not be the easiest task “across the pond?”….Hugs…stephen


Craig William Dayton November 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm

No…I’m not crying…I just have something in my eye.

I guess I’m tearing up because we almost lost you, but I am also because of all the incredible love that surrounded you by your family. And, to be blessed with Lauren as your wife. I am determined to one day be so lucky to find a wife like her one day, even if I don’t find her until I’m 90. That kind of love and kindness is so very rare indeed. You are blessed beyond measure.

Stephen, I have been ultra busy of late and have not been on the blog, but today (22nd), I jumped on the blog as I am going down to a new filmmakers group at Fells Point in Baltimore, MD shortly. I wanted to tell them about, and so I thought I’d better brush up on things.

Then…I find this. I’ve read through each of the posts of your experience, and I’m just so very happy that you are still with us.

Of course, being the “out there” kind of person I am, you know I’m going to have to ask if there was any OBE that you might have had, OBE being out-of-body? If not, that’s fine, I simply find the subject interesting.

Now…I will take off my “artsy” hat and put on my technical, practical geek hat and tell you of something that I have been aware of for many years. There is a book about the heart and keeping it healthy, and there is also information as to what miracles are being done in the area of ADULT stem cells…hearts are being mended, quadriplegics are walking, etc. I could fill this blog with this information. But, I need to get ready for my trip down to Baltimore now, and you need to rest. I will come back and give you the information. This has been something I have followed for years now, and so I think what I have to tell you will be worthwhile.

You hang in there, my friend. I will definitely have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Many hugs to you and to your loving family.


Stephen Simon November 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Hi Craig…thanks so much, maestro…as to finding love late in life, please take “heart”: I didn’t meet Lauren until I was 57!…and, until I did, I was pretty well convinced that I would never have a life partner…so…miracles and love happen all the time…thanks so much again for your steadfast support….hugs…Stephen


Craig William Dayton November 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm


I mentioned that I would come back with the name of a great heart researcher and his books and links. This man has dedicated a good deal of his life to this, and so I would encourage you to check out the following.

The man is Christian Wilde and here are some websites that you will want to know about. Take your time with them. There is a LOT of information:
(NOTE: be sure to read about the stem cell research, too.)


and his other book on Amazon, HIDDEN CAUSES OF HEART ATTACK AND STROKE:

All of the above is great information. It’s a lot to take in, but over time, I believe it will be a benefit for you.

Many hugs to you and that good heart of yours. May it beat on for many many many more years.



Judy Cochrane November 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Hi Stephen,
Just thought you might be interested in a one hour special to be re-aired on CNN this Friday Nov 25 (7 and 11 pm ET – 4 and 8 pm PT). It is called “The Last Heart Attack” and features Bill Clinton, Dr, Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I just saw the preview and think it will be worth the watch.
I just finished watching the “Listen to your Heart” SCC …very beautiful, powerful messages and the synchronicity is amazing. I agree with your subscriber that the SCC is like getting a letter from a friend each month. Blessings, Judy Cochrane


Stephen Simon November 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm

“SCC is like getting a letter from a friend each month.”–Hi Judy–wow–that’s a great endorsement–I love that–thank you!!…and I really appreciate the heads up (hearts up?) about the CNN special…DVR is now set……thanks also for your words of support….hugs..Stephen


Brigid Krane November 24, 2011 at 8:23 am

Hi Stephen,
I’m writing yet again because this loving ending to your story has touched me again. I am in the midst of completing my first semester of grad school for social work, and my heart is just not into it. It feels empty to me, and depressing. I need to somehow get back into film and “story.” I know you advised me against this, but I have to find some way. Your story is yet another message to me that my heart is where it’s at. I need to figure out what it will take for me to create the life I want… whatever day jobs need to be worked. However many hours spent burning the midnight oil.
Thank you, Stephen, with all my heart! Glad you’re feeling better and thanks again for sharing this part of your life with us all!


Stephen Simon November 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Hi Brig…as always, great to hear from you…and thank you so much for your support, both during those difficult days 3 weeks ago and now…as to pursuing your film dream, I think your biggest challenge is being in Cleveland (you’re still there, yes?)….and I do hear you loud and clear….listen to your heart!!…big hug…Stephen


Sidney Peck/CinemaProfound November 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Dear Stephen: Well, not only are you incredibly blessed, you are conscious of that truth. It sounds like you have an amazing family and circle of friends, that’s something that I neglected in my devotion to my career and learned to regret later in life. Now, I am focused on friends and family as much as my career and I feel so much more balanced. I have no doubt that your new life will be even more exciting than your life B.A. (before the attack). Can’t wait to see what you’ll do next 🙂 Sidney


Stephen Simon November 26, 2011 at 6:16 am

Thanks so much, Sidney…yes, dying 4 times sure straightens out your priorities really, really fast….have learned so much and so much yet to unfold….thanks again!..Stephen


Nikki Di Virgilio November 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm

As it has been expressed by so many already- I am so glad you are here. Thank you for sharing this story with us, and I trust you will continue to as it unfolds.

I relate to your story. On September 29, 2011 my car was struck from behind as we cruised at 60mph on the highway. My 11-year old daughter was ejected from the car. As is your story, ours is a miracle as well. The neurosurgeon said when someone is ejected from a car it most often ends in paralysis or death. My daughter spent a week in the hospital with a broken arm and four fractured vertebrae which required surgery, but I know it could have been so much worse. My car was totaled, as it flipped in the air several times. To look at the car, I am amazed we walked out. I too, have watched the lessons, gifts- and also the fear of this event continue to unfold. The thought of- I could have died moves us into layers of our being we might not have been previously made aware of. The material there is rich.

I believe these are our wake-up stories, and from what I have gathered from your work and what you share, you were already in an awakened state. So imagine the heights you will sore to now.

Blessings to you and your family,



Stephen Simon November 26, 2011 at 6:19 am

Hi Nikki….my God, that was only a couple of months ago…what a terrifying experience for all of you…is your daughter doing well in her recuperation?…and you as well?….thanks so much for sharing this and please know I send you and your family huge hugs and much love…Stephen


Nikki Di Virgilio November 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Yes, two months today. Still very fresh and alive in our lives. My daughter is doing better. It will be an ongoing process for quite some time, with doctor appointments and another surgery to remove the hardware in her spine. I am writing, which is helping me recuperate. Working on a book proposal now, actually.

Thank you for your kindness. I hope you are doing better.

Here’s to life,



Judy Cochrane December 4, 2011 at 10:48 am

Hi Stephen,
Hope you are feeling well and getting lots of rest!
Just thought you might be interested some research for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease focusing on the human mind and body. Dr. Alexander Clark is a professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing and has been granted over $2 million in funding and many research awards for his work on the psychosocial adjustment to being, all of a sudden, someone with heart disease. His research is helping align the right intervention programs with the right patients, and has appeared in over 100 publications, including the British Medical Journal. The US asked hiim to provide expert witness to determine whether some secondary prevention programs were worth funding through Medicare/Medicaid. I’m from Alberta, Canada and proud that his work has had such a great impact.
Take care, Judy Cochrane


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