Jewish Journal

My Beautiful Heart

by Ilana Angel

June 30, 2013 | 9:15 pm

I had a medical situation this weekend and spent most of my time in the hospital. It was scary, and at the same time humbling.  As I lay there alone, not wanting to alarm my son or family, I watched as they did an ultrasound of my heart.  It was the first time I have ever actually seen my heart, and it brought me to tears.  The heart is truly remarkable and although I write about my heart almost everyday, in seeing it, I understood her differently.

I watched my heart pump life through my body.  I saw the movement of the valve, the flow of the blood, and I heard her working so hard.  I was lulled by her rhythm and felt as though she was speaking to me.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I don’t often think of her in terms of how hard she works, but have always thought she was resilient,  as she has been broken more than once. When I saw her though, it was a profound moment.

The heart is beautiful.  There is frantic movement and sound, but it is like watching a prima ballerina dance to perfection.  I have treated my heart kindly.  I am careful what I feed her, make sure she gets exercise, and fill her with kindness and compassion.  She has taken a few hits, but she never gives up, never gives in, and when people break her, she rallies to pull herself together.  My heart has won every fight with my brain. She is tough.

I am fine, my son and family have been brought in on the situation and all is well, but it made me think about a day when I might not be fine.  I have a will, life insurance, and a directive to take care of my body should I be unable to make decisions for myself, but nobody in my family knows where the papers are, or what my wishes are. It occurred to me that while I am certainly prepared, they are not, and that is not good.

I will take the time to make sure my family knows what my wishes are should anything ever happen to me.  I will speak with my son about my desires for myself in terms of my life directive, my funeral, and my desires for my funeral.  It is morbid and something I don’t plan on happening for many, many years, but in seeing my heart, I see my life, and I do not want to place the burden of the unknown on my child.  I want him to be ready.

This is not about bringing attention to my medical issues, which are now fine, but rather to bring attention to the fact that it is not enough to prepare ourselves in terms of wills, insurance, and medical directives.  We need to also prepare and educate our families.  To remove the fear of the unknown is something we need to do. It takes the business out of death, which I think matters.  Death is enough for a family to deal with.

Instead of fearing the end of my life, in preparing my family for what will happen one day, will bring me peace.  In seeing my heart I want to embrace my life and make it as simple as possible.  Limiting the surprise of life after death is all one can do because knowing about death is not something we get. It is not morbid, it is love.  I love my child and when he is faced with the loss of his mother, I want him to not have to worry about legalities.

I feel blessed to be in good health.  I watched my father die from cancer and seeing his health deteriorate was heartbreaking.  In seeing my heart I thought of all those who have tried to break her. Her resilience has been displayed in epic proportions.  I must respect her now as I have never before, and to not give power to those who hurt her.  I need to take care of her as she takes care of me.  With nonstop and never ending love.

To my lovely friend Lisa, who unexpectedly became my in case of emergency person, thank you so much.  To my son, who cried as the mere mention of the word hospital, I love you and you do not need to worry.  To my sister, who insisted I go to the hospital and stayed on the phone with me from Canada, I love you.  To the lovely cardiologist who allowed me to see my heart, and spoke to me as a human being, not a patient, my sincerest thanks.

I am happy to be home and blessed that a stressful weekend ended well. Life is sometimes scary, but in the end I lean on my faith and count my blessings to get me through.  I am a mother first, and a mother always, so my desire for health is not about just me.  My son built my heart, and in watching her I saw a love for him I have ever seen before.  To my heart, thank you.  I see you, I feel you, I know you, and I am keeping the faith.



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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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