SONGS OF THE HEART
Fourteen days ago tonight I checked myself into the ER with chest pains. After many tests, my cardiologist finally advised me today that my existing heart condition, pericarditis, has turned chronic and was the cause of the pain. Pericarditis is inflammation of the sack around the heart and is caused by a virus. No doubt stress was a contributing factor. The condition is usually non life-threatening but sure can scare you as its symptoms mimic a heart attack. In the meantime, waiting for these results these past 14 days, I was left thinking about all kinds of bigger issues. Unexpectedly.
At first, when I left the hospital, it was a whirlwind of panic: “what the hell, I’m too young, how can this be – who can I blame?”. Then, when I was released, it turned into “oh shit, I better do something, forget who’s to blame, what can I change and what can I do?”. And then it recently settled into: “I can control what I can control, I am doing my best medically. I just need to accept the rest”.
In the last fourteen days, my life has already changed. I had to stop running – something I’ve loved to do for years. I stopped strenuous work outs at the gym – never liked those, but they worked. I stopped drinking coffee – still waking up from that one! And I slowed down my pace. Way down. And signed up for yoga – while waiting to order my “Youthberry” tea in line at Starbucks. So as I’m now inhaling and exhaling and finding my third eye, I’m re-examining life as I know it from a new-found perspective.
That’s where this blog post was born. And guess what my bottom line is as my heart is bumming me out? I’ve not yet sang nearly enough bed-time songs to my daughter! So I’m not ready to exit the stage quite yet.
Ever since my little Gracie was born, I’ve held her in my arms and sang songs to her: nursery rhymes, pop songs, and the last four or so years, my songs and the songs of the Great American Song Book.
Tonight for example, she asked for eight encores of the classic “Young At Heart” – and I could hardly remember the lyrics, but I think she got the gist of the song each time I fumbled through it, and loved it nonetheless. (And boy, was that song timely!) Other nights, she’ll unexpectedly ask me for a slew of Jobim melodies – maybe she recognizes how they resonate for us in their storytelling. And then there are the times when she’ll throw me a little curve ball: “mom, sing me ‘When You Wish Upon a Star'”. And I do. As I sing these songs, I realize the bigger meaning they carry.
Each song is a beautifully encapsulated message left forever in a certain time and space, a story I’m telling her that has touched my heart, and is touching hers, and vice versa. And I’m passing on this heart legacy on to her. And she’s taking it in as memories of mom and of being together. And as with most songs we choose, the world is a beautiful and better place in them, filled with love and boundless potential.
I feel like I am just getting started in singing to her really. She’s only 11. She will need to hear all kinds of songs before she leaves my side: songs of hope and joy, songs of getting over heartache and believing in yourself, and songs of perseverance. And always, more songs of love.
Yeah, I’m not done yet. And I hope and pray that “The heart will go on – and on”.
For Gracie’s sake.