Saturday, January 17, 2009

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

Turns out I'm going to live after all. Not that I'm disappointed. It's just a bit of a head-scratcher after having braced for the worst.

A couple months ago, I developed a thump. In my chest. Like an extra-big heartbeat. Enough of a knock-knock against my breastbone to make me cough. At first I ignored it, because that's what I do when I'm scared. I wait for the burglar to lift up the squeaky window, step roughly on the hardwood floor and start rifling the jewelry box before I call 911. I just like to MAKE SURE disaster is imminent.

Weeks passed. Thanksgiving came and went. So did Christmas. Then the Ranger put his big Ranger foot down. "You have to call your cardiologist. And I'm not kidding, honey bun. Not one little bit." Well, when you put it like that.

So came the battalion of tests. Running on a treadmill strapped to an EKG machine. Chest ultra-sound. 24-hour halter monitor. That last one was really sexy. Wired up like a bank hostage set to blow. Every time one of my yoga students hugged me, she'd ask, "Why does your chest feel like there's a hard box glued to your boob." Um...because there is a hard box glued to my boob.

Time passed. I developed a plan. For the pacemaker in my future. No more wanding at airport security no matter how handsome the guy in uniform. My parents wouldn't get the word until after the surgery because they would freak. I decided who would sub my classes. How I would tell the Ranger. Why I would ask Seattle to come hold my hand in the hospital. She's the only person I trust to hover over my bed without a trace of pity (plus, she hides fear well).

Last week, the test results came back. Yeah, I have some irregular heartbeats. Everybody does. But it turns out I have "fewer irregularities than 99% of the population." In fact, my heart is an iron horse. Strong muscle walls, clean arteries, the conditioning of an athlete. The techs had to stop the treadmill because they got bored watching me run. Then Dr. Marker started rifling through my chart, pausing at my brother's autopsy: a triathlete, a mountain climber who died at 36 from arterial disease. His eyes softened. He nodded. "Listen. You might drop dead tomorrow. There's no predicting life. Or death. But it's not going to be from heart disease." He closed the chart. "Try to stop worrying. Be happy."

And there's the rub. When I told the Ranger, he sighed a big sigh then held me tight. "I know you don't believe happiness can last. But it can. I'm not going to leave you. You're not going to die anytime soon. It's all good. Trust that."

Honestly, I don't know where along the road I grew so suspicious. Perhaps it was the year my husband and I ended our marriage over burgers and fries, one of my dearest friends was tortured and strangled to death in his home and my brother, my best connection to my past, present and future, went to sleep on his birthday and never woke up. Could be that. Life is good. And then a match. Burns it all down.

So my resolution for 2009. Learn to make pie crust. And to stop worrying. Or worry less. Revel in the smallness of things. The gestures. The perfect moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting. Like when the Ranger and I curl up in bed with the pup, our breathing in sync as the long night sinks in bone deep and the indifferent ocean creates then tears away, relentless, outside the window.

Where to begin. These tiny celebrations. How 'bout...

Living on a hard, black rock, hugging a deep, blue sea.


Fishing for dinner. With beer. Letting the cell phone ring and ring.

Peering into the face of a dog. Any dog.

Watching the pelicans make their way South.


Listening to my own heartbeat. Anticipating the next thing.

6 comments:

Kylita said...

From my heart to yours, one beat at a time, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes halffast, it is, truly, all very good. You are loved in the past, present, future, but more importantly, you are loved here and now. A few lines from a poem of mine:
"I'll let the past go by the wayside, and down the railroad tracks I'll run..."
Grief can be like that thingy Gibran wrote, about pain breaking the seed open, about growing from it all. Strangely enough, my brother is sometimes more alive to me now than he ever was, and he is always, always and forever in my heart. Maybe our hearts get broken open to allow more Light in... or out, to allow more Love to be held inside and circulate out to others. Others like Ranger and a dog ... family and friends.
SisSTAR xo

nick tauro jr. said...

beautiful post.

Aussiegirl said...

"When you have come to the edge
of all the light you know

And are about to step off into
the darkness of the unknown,

Faith is knowing one of two things
will happen:

There will be something solid to
land on

Or you will be taught to fly."

Anon.

Amiguita, you will always be just where you are supposed to be.

Lisa The Pretty said...

You were out of your mind with worry if you thought Seattle was the best bedside assistance. The first Happy Hour call and she would have been down in the Doctor's lounge. But now that I think about it, she would have at least brought some good books to share.

Mich said...

a. did the ranger really call you honey bun? that's so sweet.
b. of course i'd come and hold your hand in the hospital. unless there's blood involved. i get faint.
c. you are in trouble for not calling and telling us about all of this.

love & kisses, Mr. & Mrs. Seattle

Winged Librarian said...

Now here's something else to live for -- tomorrow (23 Jan) is National Pie Day. A very good reason to practice that pie crust. Or go into town for a nice slica'.

Glad all is well in the chest cavity.