The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. -Carlos Santana
I recently learned that I have an Aortic Aneurysm. This is basically an abnormal enlargement or bulging of the aorta. If the aneurysm continues to grow, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding and most often death. More testing and follow up is still being done to determine whether I was born with this condition or if it is something that has developed with time and still growing. Yay, wait and wonder.
I am trying to wrap my head around this. And I suppose my heart too. Since hearing the news, I feel like I have been a little removed from my body. I've decided it feels better to float above because when I drop back in, I start to feel really scared. My chest gets tight and my breathing becomes restricted. I want to cry out uncontrollably and hide underneath my covers. I start to imagine that my aneurysm is growing at a stupidly rapid rate and that it is going to explode and I am going to die. Yes, I know, this is totally dramatic and a recognize that I am having a panic attack. But I am scared. Scared that I won't die of old age peacefully in my sleep. Scared that I won't get to see my grandchildren be born. Scared that I won't see my baby girl get married. Scared that I won't see my boys graduate high school. Scared that I won't get to see the sunset tomorrow. Scared of my own mortality staring me in the face.
Last night, as I was lying in bed unable to sleep and obsessing over my heartbeats, I started thinking about all the things that felt incomplete in my life. All the things that I haven't done. All the things that I haven't said. I realized that I was far from ready to die...(if there is such a thing as ever being 'ready'). Then reluctantly I slid down the rabbit hole of trying to determine the quickest ways to fulfill my 'life' goals which of course spun me out even more and further prolonged my falling asleep. When I awoke this morning, not bright eyed or bushy tailed, I felt myself treading towards the same thought pattern as last night, a place I didn't want to go.
So, I have decided that I can either sink in this mindset or swim like hell to the shore and shake it off. Because either way, I am going to die. Maybe from this aneurysm, but probably not. Maybe tomorrow, but probably not. Death is the one thing that is guaranteed for us to experience in this beautiful life we live. There is no avoiding it. No hiding under the covers to escape it. Death will find us all one day. The funny thing is, it usually takes a reflection of our own mortality to wake up to this. To remind us that our time here on Earth is fleeting. And I am beginning to see that it doesn't matter if all the boxes are marked on my lifetime to-do list. No one is going to be standing over my dead body reviewing it. Nobody is going to care if I wrote a book or if I made a million dollars. All they are really going to reflect on is how well I loved. So the question for me really becomes, how do I love better? And how do I love more?
While I don't have the ultimate answer to that question, I do know that I can start by being present. Truly mindful to every moment that is gifted to me. Because that is what moments are. Lovely little gifts from Spirit. I am going to stop letting those moments pass me by. I am going to cry when I want to cry and laugh when I want to laugh. And say yes more and no less. And give more hugs. And say I love you. Mostly though, I am going (to try) to stop obsessing about my future and relish in the spectacular life that I live today. And be grateful and say thank you. Because that is what it means to live. And to live is to love. The heart just needs to stay open. Thanks for listening. I love you.