I’ve got money in my pocket
I like the color of my hair
I’ve got a friend who loves me
Got a house, I’ve got a car
I’ve got a good mother
and her voice is what keeps me here
Feet on ground
Heart in hand
-Jann Arden “Good Mother”
I had just received the call any father wants from his eldest.
She was on her way out for the evening and was just calling to say, “I miss you”.
We chatted for a long time, and I could hear the happiness in her voice and the awareness of how the challenges of being 4,000 km away had actually served her.
The conversation was one I was waiting to have for 25 years, er no she’s almost 26 now.
i recognized it was that call because my heart was soaring.
She told me that she mightn’t have emerged from the shadow of … shall we say, her sometimes “larger than life” father and an inspirational mother, had she not decided to face her fears and move.
I feel she has little idea how much she inspires me.
Her willingness to look at a challenge and take it on came to her early in life.
At birth our first child was given a 2/10 chance of survival after complications created several challenges for a tiny little fighter.
But fight she did.
When I would visit her in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, while everyone there was wonderful, no one could answer the question “Why did this happen to my little girl”?
When the day came that they asked if I would like to (finally) hold my daughter for the first time, that moment was etched amongst the quintessential moments of love in my life.
It is my belief that this auspicious start set us both up for last Saturday night.
When we hung up my heart was full, I felt a beam from within, cross my face and my smile seemed frozen in place.
Hours later, I was still trippin, I had gone home, made my favorite meal, and plunked down in front of a show that caught my eye.
I was content and fulfilled.
I even put that Jann Arden song on and sang from a happy heart, (yes, even the part about the color of my hair-which in my case is sort of a flesh tone).
To me the song is about finding (finally) joy in the most simple of life’s gifts,
A lesson which took way too long for me to learn. I felt tears of happy gratitude for the simple fact that my daughter has a good mother (she’s outstanding actually) who was equiped to cover all the lessons I had yet to learn.
I fell asleep with the smile of Buddha on my face and in my heart.
A few years ago, I separated my clavicle and sometimes it gives me grief if I sleep on it wrong.
So, when I woke Saturday night in discomfort, I assumed I was on my right shoulder and rolled over.
A few times.
It wouldn’t stop hurting, so I sat up.
When I started to rub the shoulder realised this was the left side.
“That’s weird”, I thought, not recalling doing anything to have caused the pain I begrudgingly chalked it up to age.
But still, I couldn’t sleep.
I looked out the window and saw the hospital across the street and thought, “Hmm I wonder if this is why I picked this place?”
By now the arm was hurtin pretty good, but as I turned to lock the door I saw my dog standing there waiting to come with me. I grew concerned for him. “What if I am not back before later in the morning?” “What if I go into surgery… or what if….”
“How will anyone know he’s there?”
I hesitated to leave him, for a moment and then I had no choice, the left arm was way worse than any ‘man cold’ pain I had ever experienced.
I locked the door wondering what fate awaited us both, yet something surrendered me, assuaging my fears.
At the door of the hospital it was a security guard by the name of Blair, who identified the state I was in, flicking his cigarette away, (that’s ironic no?), he set a land speed record racing me down the endless corridor in a wheel chair to the emerg.
Lying on a gurney waiting for one of the tests, at three a.m. I was struggling with feeling alone, and maybe a little …nervous?
I couldn’t see sending a message to any loved one. I mean it was 3 AM. Nighttime is the most fertile land in which the seeds of worry grow. I didn’t know what to say, my condition at this point was just speculation.
First, I distracted my racing mind with thoughts of my eldest, how she had faced down similar threats and won,
….and then I did the natural thing and opened social media 😊
The very first post in my feed was one of an old friend who had undergone a massive operation to fix his ticker, he had written a beautiful post about the value of friends.
It was well written, and I commented.
“It’s 3 AM dude what are you doing up?”
“I always get up early, it’s the best part of my day”
He engaged me, literally walking me through the hours ahead and distracting my errant mind with funny old memories and promises to ski together in days to come.
The news came and it was the least settling kind:
“We aren’t sure what happened but it sure seems like you had some sort of coronary episode“
My first thoughts were for those I love, I am NOT ready to leave them. Upon realising none of us ever are, my next thoughts were “ I have so much yet to do, a lot I have promised to do, a lot I am responsible for and I’m only halfway through writing my first book!! Why did I wait so long to start?”
Why is it that all that I have ever learned about anything of real value in life, has been anchored in heart pain?
The loss of our family business.
The loss of my father.
The end of my marriage.
There seems to be an undeniable link between learning and loss. Between growth of the heart following pain caused to it.
And at that precise moment I had like an awakening, precipitating a trascendant shift in perspective and awareness.
I began to become acutely aware of the grace, patience and understanding with which the orderlies and nurses were doing their jobs.
I began to consider the “coincidence” of my friend’s post and felt the familiar awareness of something greater than me, manifesting a lighthouse by which to navigate my way through these scary-ass waters.
I began to think of my daughters call and her journey to happiness, from that little tent in neonatale intensive care.
I concluded, that while the world may be a mess, there are people who muster caring compassion and tolerance, every day- like Blair.
I understood that when I feel alone, that’s almost always a choice. As there are always those who have walked before me and whether I connect on Facebook or not, the path is tracked with their experience and I need to just keep looking for footprints.
Yet most significantly, I became aware that Life REALLY does want you to succeed.
The Universe is in your corner, it wants you to beat the odds. Think about it, the chances of you being alive and reading this are something like one in 10 trillion!
Let that sink in.
Yet life insists that we leverage the love that lies within us all, to find our own will to emerge. Then we must hook our wagon to that will and let it deliver us from the darkness that also exists in all our lives.
I walked out of the hospital late in the afternoon Sunday, stunned that they released me, with a spray pump of nitro and an appointment to come back tomorrow.
But I walked out with way more.
I left with an understanding that the French word for heart is coeur and the that roots the word, courage.
It takes great courage to face the darkness that surfaces in all our lives but as my 5-day old daughter taught me so many years ago and then again Saturday night:
“My light is not eclipsed by darkness; it is defined by it”
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2 thoughts on “Lessons from the heart.”
Richard! I love this. So beautifully written. My daughter also lives far away. And I experience the same soaring heart when I speak to her. There were so many wonderful threads and ideas here. Keep writing and I wish good heart health in the future.
I believe I may have missed this
Thank you Ivy
I hope your mom is well !