Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Groove Is in the Heart


In November 2004, I left my two-year-old twin boys and four-and-a-half-year-old daughter in the care of my husband, friends, and family, and was admitted to a local hospital for open heart surgery. In previous months, I had become increasingly tired and it seemed clear that it was time for the doctors to replace my aortic valve (misformed at birth) and a portion of my aorta that had formed an aneurysm. After the surgery, the white-faced surgeon informed my husband that it was good that we'd done the surgery when we did, that the aneurysm was "tissue paper thin," that it could have burst at any time, and it was clear by the look in his eyes exactly what he meant by this. "This was the real deal," he said.

The surgery was a phenomenal success. Exhibit A: I'M STILL HERE. True, I had some bad medication reactions, didn't experience the unreasonably enormous energy burst I'd hoped for, and spent a good year getting more or less back to normal. The flip side: I'M ALIVE. Other people speak figuratively about getting a new lease on life. Quite literally, that's what I got. I spent the first half (no, third...let's make it the first third) of my life climbing into tiny, uncomfortable boxes (conservative fundamentalist religion, bad relationships, and let's not even mention the long, unfortunate permed hair phase) and painfully working my way back out again. Now, baby, my life, she is an open road. I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend; a writer, a feminist, a person of faith (whatever some might think), a questioner, a wanna-be activist. This is, indeed, the real deal.

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