on having a heart

Today I visited a friend who has been poorly.  Her heart was not working properly, thankfully all is well now, but it made me think about this amazing pump keeping our life blood flowing, every minute of every day.

Some people will know that I was born with a heart problem, and back in the late 1950’s it was not routine for babies to be treated or have heart surgery.  Lots of babies with my problem died.  I didn’t because Mum wouldn’t stop trying to get me treated and eventually she succeeded.  The person who operated on me was at the hospital teaching surgeons how to fix babies with holes in their hearts.  Mum and Dad were told if I had been born a year earlier they wouldn’t have been able to treat me at all,

I have grown up with the knowledge that by an accident of birth I got lucky.  It was entirely conceivable I could have died before my 2nd birthday. I have no memories of the operation or the hospital, but clearer recollection of the after care, being seen every six months until the age of five when I was discharged from the hospital. I have never looked back.  I have also never taken life for granted.  It was a hard day when we learned of the early death of my doctor, he had a heart attack.

This has made me reflect on the importance of the heart as a symbol of life, of love and of friendship.  It is part of our vocabulary, we are heart broken, we can be heart sore, we take heart when we are down, to pick up and start over again.  Hearts and flowers, forever linked with good times and love.  The connections are there always. You find your sweetheart, you follow your heart and you love from the bottom of your heart.  Our language, our culture and our lives revolve around this pump in our chests, the secret of life.

Other organs are just as vital to life.  We don’t invest the same emotional language with them.  No one gets cards with brains on, calls their soul mate their sweetliver, or follow their intestines to find dreams.  It is the heart with its emotional connection with life that represents life and love itself.

So today I am celebrating the amazing doctors who have pioneered heart surgery,  a Mum who didn’t give up on her baby,  my friends and family, lots of whom know what fear heart problems bring.  I am thinking of love and life and the connections between the two.

May we take heart from our friendships, set our hearts on our dreams and never give up.

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