Heart Holes

Do I need to floss my teeth?” “Only the ones you want to keep.”

And so the saying goes. But my body will give out before my teeth do, and no one told me that would happen. I didn’t smoke, I ate my vegetables… well I tried to anyway. I did eat meat from a charcoal grill, but it really doesn’t matter what caused it. The reality is that some cellular matter has gone awry

“Only the ones you want to keep.”

And so the saying goes. But my body will give out before my teeth do, and no one told me that would happen. I didn’t smoke, I ate my vegetables… well I tried to anyway. I did eat meat from a charcoal grill, but it really doesn’t matter what caused it. The reality is that some cellular matter has gone awry, and it, or the treatment will kill me.

Disconcertingly, at my first appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Julia, she said to go to the dentist because rotten teeth during chemo can kill you. Of course every day I learn more things that can kill you when you have cancer, besides the cancer: rotten teeth, a staph infection of your port, a bad reaction to the chemo that’s trying to save you, or a hole opening up in your heart. A literal one.

I don’t have a literal hole in my heart. They checked.

However, I do have figurative hole that no one can see, not even with an echo cardiogram. That machine can’t see me trying to cram, sort and file all my memories into the crowded spaces in my heart, hoping when I die all the beautiful living memories come with me. It can’t measure the hole that widens as I try to remember every second of my twin girls’ lives and realize I am grossly disappointed in my unstable memory.

Why do the mistakes stand out? The moments and decisions I would change are like smelly rotten edges around the hole that I can’t ignore. On the other hand, daily life falls away: the beautiful mornings of driving to school together every day, every year, “look, Mom, a mouse is on our windshield”. Just a few mornings stand out, such as the hitchhiking mouse, but hundreds of other mornings are lost in that hole.

It can’t measure the hole that widens as I try to remember every second of my twin girls’ lives and realize I am grossly disappointed in my unstable memory.

Why do the mistakes stand out? The moments and decisions I would change are like smelly rotten edges around the hole that I can’t ignore. On the other hand, daily life falls away: the beautiful mornings of driving to school together every day, every year, “look, Mom, a mouse is on our windshield”. Just a few mornings stand out, such as the hitchhiking mouse, but hundreds of other mornings are lost in that hole. Will my girls remember how much I loved them, and that I treasured our moments as we lived them?

My friendships – built on laughter and talks and baring of souls. I know the foundation; I feel the glow and love we created, but I can’t remember every beautiful moment of growing that friendship. And I am LUCKY in the friendships I have. So supportive. So honest. So hard to remember the moments. Will each precious friend have a memory that reminds them of my love?

My sister and brother; my mom, grandma, and grandpa… my life is stacked like old magazines where I recognize the covers, but not the articles in between. Did I give back as much love as I got? That is my hope and prayer. Will my grandpa’s spirit be waiting for me? To envelope me in the safety and love that he gave me on earth?

And Tim…. He is relatively new to this finite life of mine, so I tend to remember more. I wrote more down. I paid attention. Although chemo brain snips some of those synapses, I will hold his love forever. His love will travel with me wherever I go next. He makes me laugh, every single day. I knew when I met him how precious love and time was and that it shows up in facade too often, and the real deal needs attending to. Will he be able to find me again?

I will have my teeth when I die, and I will have a heart, but when they crack me open, the hole in my heart will be the unmeasurable size of lost memories from loving so many, so hard, and having so many moments during an Amyzing life, both in the past and those moments yet to come.

8 thoughts on “Heart Holes

  1. You loved back so much more and fiercely than I’ve ever been able to give. I love you, sissy! There isn’t a magazine large enough….

  2. I have mantle cell lymphoma which failed to respond to chemotherapy and so I know what it feels like to face up to the fact that your days are limited. It is a strange feeling at times because some days I still have plenty of energy and others I am flaked after only a few hours. I love writing which helps, and can still do some travel. You are at least able to try and take something positive from your life. I wish you love in your struggle 🙂

  3. I have so many memories of the love you have shown me over the years. The laughter, the tears, the support, your encouragement, and on and on. I will never forget these moments. You are a blessing in my life.

  4. The hole you speak of is filled with love: pounding, passionate, beautiful, eternal, flawed, perfect. The edges and memories may be blurred, but the love is a force that fills and doesn’t ever, ever, leave.

  5. So many memories of your smiling, beautiful face and spirit. Your constant encouragement and “lifting up” of others. Love you so much dear friend.

  6. You are a bright light in my life sweet Amy! Your girls will always have the memories of the amazing mom you are!!

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