One Stent Opened Two Hearts

Ice cubes scraped sides of Styrofoam cups. Plastic gloves and open Johnnies. IV’s, hospital food, alarms and moving beds. Toilets slept beneath cabinets, alert button on remotes. Blood pressure sleeves inflated over a forearm black and blue…

Cords beneath sheets, plastic clips upon fingertips. Thermometers. Machines on wheels and grippy fuzzy sock bottoms. Ice cream sat melting on a tray, for my Dad a heart patient…

I slumbered in polyester near my Mom in the waiting room. An uneasy nights sleep beneath a borrowed blanket. I thought about the fear this blanket has comforted, while curious of the couples story in adjacent chairs. I internalize feelings of others, seeing beyond external shells into hearts, often losing personal strength and energy. When life happens, it remains my challenge being a snowflake at the mercy of the wind. Empathy has its curse.

Fluorescent lights and instant coffee. A pierced groin from a stent, awesome science. Time flew, crackles eased in stethoscopes. The United Nations visited in obvious hierarchy. They called his EKG a tombstone.

At the time of the attack, my Dads heart was 95% blocked. Mine had been emotionally blocked, until this…

I am incredibly grateful for a second chance to make it right between us. My Dad and I have been a bit like oil and water over the years, unaware how this avoidance dance began. I had lost sight of mending fences. Mindfulness practice teaches me of impermanence, but compassion had not yet been implemented, a Sunday before Christmas. What an asshole I was, unappreciative lost time. Tears form at the thought.

Refilling his cup with ice, the realization of the situation about weakened me to the tile. My Mom signed A-Z insurance forms, he moved into my priceless column…she sat quietly knitting after saving him. He saved her following colon cancer.

Fuck my genes, I shall live it up.

Seeing parents vulnerable tears at my heart strings. Love hurts. If I were a bird, I would have flown from the nest, unattached, without feeling a thing.

Reaching into my pocket that December Sunday, I was unaware a text would change my life. Words placed in particular order can bring your system horror. My Dad was in an ambulance. My stomach dropped, time froze. Leaving work I shook, but aggressively drove hoping with all I had it was not too late. Texting siblings through tear drops, I pulled into the lot 22.5 below an empty tank, in time to meet the surgeon.

He is alive!!

The stent took.

Overwhelmed by divine timing, dead batteries in the defibrillator, an inoperable helicopter. A wild turkey flew in front of my car, we did not collide. Emotionally exhausted followed by a foggy mind, but what a gift; this tangible Christmas miracle.

9 days after his heart attack, my Dad said over the phone, as I sat in ski gear in a cold car; “I don’t know what went wrong or what happened to have us alienated so much, but I would go through a heart attack to have you back.”

Does it get any better?! A hole in my heart mended, one only my Dad could fill.

I am at peace.

Love heals hearts.

He was astonished to be alive and thanked me for being there. I will always treasure our heart to heart at 0400, just him and I. Raw, truthful and real. I heard his words that night, and felt his love, filling me with a lifetime of gratitude. A nurse woke him to take his weight at 0600. I woke to his bum protruding from an open Johnny, stepping onto a scale. Awkward, but humor was appreciated.

My Dad is an icon in my childhood community, he has touched the lives of thousands. I had lost sight of all his super cool traits, through a negative focus. This experience threw out misconceptions, and wrong perceptions. Sitting in that hospital chair in the Cardiovascular Critical Care Unit, I did not wish to be anywhere else in the world.

I carried such hurt surrounding our disconnect, an elephant in my heart. Until December 21, 2014, I rarely valued how solid and fun he was, and just how strong he made me. Hearts clog, but they can also reopen and love even more radiantly. That single stent opened an artery and tore down the wall between us. It made me realize what may seem an impossible dynamic to change, takes just fear to realize how much you would give anything to be by their side.

What an awakening.

Then just like that he changed out of a Johnny into jeans, and I drove him home. I placed medication in plastic tackle box spaces, checked dosages and Googled side effects. His 43% ejection fraction and AFib could potentially limit things he loves, but he is still here.

Medications and lifting restrictions bring aftermath emotions, but each week he works like a hamster hooked to monitors in a basement gym. Cardiac rehab rebuilds muscle and confidence. The program is a gem.

One heart was 95% clogged. A single stent opened two, by forgiving and moving forward unconditional father daughter love…

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