Chambers of the Heart

What started this blog?

Last year I wrote a reflective essay titled “Chambers of the Heart”. I thought with the blog rolling around to a new year I would share with you more of how it all began…


Chambers of the Heart

Nestled up to a strong oak tree, becoming a statue, I sit and wait for the storm. I sink slightly into the ground and turn within. A summer’s rain saturates my cheeks and the temperature inside me rises. Stones crumble from the earthquake rumbling within my chest, while sobs force their way past my lips. A voice from inside whispers, “Breathe, just breathe, and let it pass”. I take a deep breath and see myself sixteen years back.


            A child four feet tall with sunshine hair swiping midway down her back walks slowly down a white tiled hall with her mother. For months the little girl has been complaining about not keeping up with the other kids in her class. Who knew that heavy breathing and bouts of drained energy was caused from an undetected birth defect called a heart murmur?


            I was watching the Disney movie “The Aristocrats” during the test to confirm the diagnosis. Laying on a hospital bed, a lady in blue put a glob of cold see-through goo on my chest, moved around a weird ball shaped remote, and could somehow see my heart on the TV behind me. A dime sized hole was found in one of my heart valves and one side of my heart was enlarged; the doctors informed my mother that surgery would have to be done as soon as possible. At that time my mind was really only concerned with not being able to go swimming during my 5th grade summer vacation. Plus an enlarged heart just meant I had more love to give, right?


            My mother stroked my hair with tears held back in her eyes; the day had come. I put on my gown in a ritual-like manner and walked hand-in-hand with a woman nurse back to see the rest of my family. I was deceived by the same nurse moments later when she said my mother was not allowed into the surgical room with me. Fear struck as I realized I had to do this on my own. The first time to act strong was now. Faking a smile, I waved to my family and wondered if it would be my last. A valve in my throat closed tight, I turned and continued down the broad and dimly lit corridor.


            A deep inhalation of gaseous nail-polish and maple syrup entered into my lungs. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub…I fall through the operating table and somehow end up on the ceiling with my hands resting on dry panels. As if looking through a scope, the edges were white and my vision had a strange circular haze. Below me I saw my lifeless body surrounded by an ocean of doctors. People moved like blurred waves across the shore. Colors glowed and whites were more blinding than normal. “This is a strange dream,” I remember thinking. My body was fuzzy and indistinct from my surroundings. Looking around, I saw no one else like me in this form…I was alone.


My attention swarms to my ribcage and it cries from being carved down the center. Metal snakes wrapped around this same cage keep it locked. Forceful winds pick up dead grass as it swirls around my cold rocky form. A funnel of air grabs limbs off trees and stones from the earth and slashes at the figure enveloped by darkness.


            Darkness arrived, but the curtains opened to see my puffy eyed family around me. Was I dead? No, I was back in bed and in a dimly lit room. I tried to turn to face them better and a screaming bolt hit my chest. “Don’t move dear, you need to let that heal,” said the nurse.


            The following day I was up and slowly moving around. A nurse led me to the bathroom with my mother trailing shortly behind. The dark haired woman casually pulled back my gown to check on the dressing. Looking down I saw a six inch trail of bloody gauze down the center of my chest. The invisible pipes attached to me leading to beeping machines were now in full view. Instant tears swelled in my throat. As heat rose in my cheeks and nose, the dam broke. There was no pain, only grief. A malicious thought sprung forth, “Would I now be branded as deformed?” Though my heart was “fixed” something else had shut down.


            In high school I fought inwardly on a daily basis about if I were too fat or too ugly. I wasn’t outgoing and high collared shirts kept me out of the “in” crowds. My mannerisms were watched closely by the demon in my mind, changing them to form what it thought others preferred. I tried to be perfect at everything so that others wouldn’t see my body or its scars. The room full of colors, pencils, and paint was the only class I allowed myself to be free from the mask. Art gave me a joy that nothing else could and breathed life back into my soul. Through sharing my love of art, nature, and writing, a valve once closed from anger towards myself began to open and love was pushing its way through.


Storm clouds break, letting rays of hope upon the land. The weathered stone begins to gleam. Warmth from the sun cascades down my lungs and rests within my heart.


            In college I took a blogging class and titled my blog “unfolding the heart”. It just sounded like a great title. On the day of my blog presentation I wanted to touch on the name of my title and I came to a wonderful discovery. As I spoke tears began to form at my eyes, “I focus on love and hearts because of my experience with heart surgery many years back. The invasion of cuts to my body during that surgery shut down my emotional heart, and by creating this blog I am now in the healing process of ‘unfolding’ the love that I locked away.”


            A woman with dark blond hair cries with love overflowing from her heart. Resting on a golden chair, she is embraced by her peers. She speaks with wholeness in her voice, “I can finally breathe.” Tears continue to stream as if the weight of many rains has finally begun to flow.


“I love you,” I hum to the wind. The storm subsides and the birds sing in rejoice of the rain. The air is cool and the grass sends it love to the sky with fragrance. With the setting-sun, a statue crumbles and leaves behind a glowing orb. As the sun makes its way to another morning, a smile flashes, and takes with it the last breath of light.


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