I am excessively aware and terrified of my heartbeat. The strength of it; the fragility of it;the aliveness of it; the finality of it. How it sums up the seemingly shrinking but yet expansive ordeal that my life has been this past year. Whilst people can gesture and make lists, I only have to sit really still for a moment. Everything that I am, everything that I couldn’t be this past year, it’s all perfectly summed up by the incessant beat in my chest.
My heartbeat: my single greatest accomplishment.
The other day, I ate my breakfast a little too fast and my heart beat so fast I had to lie down. I got scared, then worried then it circled to being grateful. As I lay under the covers, trying to stay as still as possible, I just couldn’t believe I was here. I am so intrigued by my heartbeat. I spend hours with my hand on my chest, listening, marveling at its rise and fall. I simply cannot believe that my heart is still beating.
This little piece of thing; this magnificent work of muscle; this symbolic beast! It never bailed on me. It just kept going. Sometimes a little too slow, but mostly too fast, beating nonetheless.
I am still here with nothing but my heartbeat. Thank you for banging at my chest, for knocking the wind out of me. Thank you for going. Thank you for beating.
I am terrified of the future. I am terrified for this heartbeat that I know so well now. How many heartbeats could I possibly still have left? How tired are you little heart of mine?
But I also trust it. I know how powerful it is. I know that until I encounter the thing that kills me, this heart will just keep beating. I did little else besides stay alive this year. I can’t claim epiphanies or some deep insights to life. I have but a single conviction: that I will survive. That my heartbeat and I, we’re life-bound. We’ve always been. I’m just so intimately aware and grateful of it now. I know what’s it’s like to have something fight so hard for you. I’ve known the feeling of holding my heart in my hands. But boy, does your heart hold you when you need it.
It’s a beautiful and isolating feeling: viewing my heartbeat as it’s own little person. As with most of my experiences this year, the things that have drawn me closer to people are also the things that separate me from them. My suffering, whilst felt by my loved ones, was still uniquely my own in harsh personal ways. My life, even if it rearranged other people’s lives around it, was still pervasively lonely and inaccessible. This intimacy with my heartbeat, while thrilling and sentimental is whimsical at best to other people. I don’t know how to make people understand that my heartbeat and I are devoted friends now.
It’s been a year. I’m a lot more more frayed, but a little more sturdy. I’m loved a whole more, but also a little more lonely. A little bit dead, but a little more alive hopefully.
I’m scared. I’m sad. I’m grieving. And dear God, I’m so heartbroken I could die. But I’m also braver, and a lot more confident in my survival. My heartbeat and I, we got this.
Become a patron. Every bit helps. Especially now, coming from this unfortunate hiatus. It’ll help to get me back on track.