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Not the physical heart, the other one

February 7, 2019

I ran into an old friend today. Hadn’t seen Tommy in a long time, evidently, as he related to me his open-heart surgery from August of last year.

How his doctors belatedly discovered that his shortness-of-breath was not asthma as they had long been telling him, but was instead the result of blockage in his heart veins to the extent of 95%, that he was (when they found this out) a “dead man walking.” How they sliced up his chest and spread it, took the heart right out on top, scavenged some veins from his leg and applied them to the heart, put it back in and stitched him right up.

How they wanted him walking in 16 hours, but he was up in 8. How they wanted him to use a walker, but he said “I’ve been walking my whole life” and set off down the hospital hall. How they wanted to keep him a week, but he was home in 3 days. Had to take care of his wife, you see.

Tom has this idea that it is love that keeps us alive, even when we are not. That the love that is in us lives eternally, whether we believe it or not. That our bodies are here for a short time only, so in terms of our lives it matters little whether we have one or not, it will be gone soon enough no matter what. Love is the thing.

Me, I’m more of a pragmatist. I’m pretty sure I’ll wake up tomorrow, so my job today is to be sure I wake up in a good place. And eventually that will be out of my hands anyway, whether or not I wake up, or where. No eternity for me.

But, nonetheless, maybe Tom and I think more-or-less the same. Whatever, right?

Before we parted, he kissed me on the cheek. Scratchy old gray beard. No other guy gets to do this, but Tom—well, he’s all right. Alive, too, after being so close to not-alive.

Makes you wonder, how many of us are that close to not-alive, and don’t even know it. Not the body, but the heart. Not the physical heart, the other one.

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