My Heart Journey: Six months ago today

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in My heart journey | 9 comments


Six months ago today I was wheeled into eight hours of open-surgery after five days in the hospital waiting. I was waiting and being tested to find out why I had a nine centimeter aneurysm in the ascending aorta of my heart. The doctors did not find out (it is genetic most likely) and I went to surgery anyway. The night before I signed a huge raft of papers and said goodnight to my husband and my kids.

Very few of the complications possible in that scenario actually happened. Thank goodness. I went home and tried to find my mental and physical footing. I cried, a whole lot, for months. Three days a week I went to rehab and pushed myself to advance in recovery of my breath, strength, stamina, and reasonable medical numbers for heart rate and blood pressure. The rehab was full of ladies half again my age and men in plaid shorts. None of them were like me. I “graduated” from rehab a few weeks ago, before I came to Washington to teach and hang out with friends and family.

Six months. Somehow I feel like I should have a little party. Maybe I will, here in my cabin in the woods in North Bend, Washington. My cabin sits feet from a cliff overlooking a bend in the river, a grey rush of water below. The sun is coming out after a day of rain. White clouds are parting to let the blue shine through. The trees surrounding me are tall and swing their branches up in a cheerful silhouette. My mom and brother are coming here later and maybe we will have a party. I won’t bring up why.

This morning I took a hike in Discovery Park, a nature preserve in Seattle, just north of the downtown. I walked for miles and sat alone by the sea. I am alive. I met Lynn and her grandchildren. Her grandson Finn remarked that he knew a number of people with broken arms. “I’m Finn” he says and then launches into the arm story. How random and real that is. How I miss my sweet children at that kindergarten stage of amazement.

If I had to really examine what I have learned from this it would be fairly predictable: don’t take your life for granted. As much as you think you know that, believe me, you do not, not until you are staring at at the other side as an immediate option. So many of my friends have done this before me, mostly dealing with cancer. Now I understand in a real way. I do not like to say “open-hearted” anymore, it feels bad, but that is what I really mean. I open-heartedly feel what my friends have been through, in a way I did not previously understand.

We have a split second of life to spend. It is that fast. I see my child moving to Brazil after just being born and I know that. I want to live to hear her tell her adventuresome tales to her children. I want to live, that is the simple and pure truth. And I did not know how much until six months ago today. For that I am grateful.



  1. Great photo of you Jill!

  2. To be so grateful and aware of the desire to live are great gifts. I’m glad your health has returned along with the stamina to hold your class. Have a gladness gathering and celebrate life. You deserve it!

  3. Found you through LifeBook. Just wanted to write and say ‘I get what you are expressing here.” Your strength and courage are evident. Sending a hug your way. Best, yvonne

  4. So profound. Gratitude. I see a map here being made sometime in the future…

    Love You,

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve never shared any of your experiences , so I truly appreciate hearing about yours. It certainly gives one perspective.

  6. Do you know when you are coming home to Colorado. So want to see you and give you a hug

  7. Glad to see comments are working again!

  8. It is soon easy to take everything for granted and so important to keep remembering all the time how precious everything is. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate every single moment, good or bad. I am very glad you are recovering well! Keep that up!

  9. It’s funny how things work out. I was randomly reading blogs today, jumping from one link to another and finally reaching your post. A potent message and one I really needed today after some scary health news. Thank you.

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