Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On the Condition of My Heart

#writeingrief Day 16

 pink Energizer Bunny 
(it reminds me of my Easter bunny that held a little baby bunny)

Heavy. Stones are cluttered over the surface so you can just see the smooth red muscle in the cracks between the rocks. 
Grief’s claws have become razor sharp slicing between these stones.

Mom and Dad with heart problems: weak heart. heart attack.

My heart outside of my body:
my sons. my husband. just walking around. I have no control over those pieces of me. 

Heart as the dust in Alaska’s urn. Her tiny heart burned to dust. The rhythm of her heart forever recorded on an ultrasound photo. 
When she died, so did a piece of me, of my heart.

And the gore that is losing a baby. 

And the murmur that I have that most doctors don’t notice or say anything about. Or they suddenly notice it after they've seen me many times.

And my heart just keeps the beat. 
With that tiny irregularity. 
With the occasional flutters.
Even when it feels like it’s being squeezed in a giant fist harder and harder as the day goes by.
Just beat. 

And like the Energizer Bunny it just keeps going and going and going. 
Slogging through the battle scenes: bloody. parts getting blown off of his body. 
But it beats and beats and beats. 
Through the fire. the blizzard. over the frozen lake, falling through ice, submerged, chilled. back to the surface warming by a campfire with the smell of roasting marshmallows. the sound of little boys.
And it beats. And it bleeds. 

Alaska Eileen Peil's heartbeat

Phew. What is it like to see the condition of my heart? It’s strange. I was afraid to sit down and make space for this prompt. I wasn’t sure what I would find. What if no images came up? Even knowing that I couldn’t mess this up even if I ended up writing about something completely different than the condition of my heart, I was scared to sit down with those images. 

Some appeared to me right away after I read the prompt this morning. The Energizer Bunny that reminds me of my childhood toy that sat in my Easter basket. The heart conditions of my mom and my dad that were diagnosed during the summer of 2013. The last summer of my Before. That summer was quite a rollercoaster with my mom’s diagnosis that her heart was weak and that her heart may or may not improve. A few weeks after her ordeal began, my dad (who I hadn’t seen for years) had a heart attack. 

During that time, I was pretty sure that one of my parents would be dead by the next summer. I wasn’t sure whether it would be my mom or my dad or my step-dad (because even then I realized that no one is safe), but I was ready for a phone call. When I got pregnant with Alaska I told my mom right away. I was afraid that her heart wouldn’t heal, so I wanted her to know. And part of me thought that maybe if she could will her heart to get better, maybe our news would help. And I don’t know, maybe our news really did help because her heart has gotten stronger.

Thankfully I didn’t receive a phone call from someone telling me that one of my parents had died. I did have to make a phone call, though. “Our baby died. We don’t know why.” I have no idea what I said, but I could only call two people to say those words aloud. I told my mom and my cousin Nikki. I told them and the boys and my sister Sunshine, and I didn’t really consider what it would do to the condition of their hearts. Mine was still beating while my baby’s wasn’t, so I just told them. And all of our hearts just kept beating even though my world had stopped. No heartbeat. We don’t know why.