Excerpt: 'Note to Self'

My story of heartbreak is not unique. Everyone goes through this sense of getting hurt, getting a raw deal, mistreated but most important, misguided by one's choices in some form or aspect of their life. Ultimately you have to take responsibility for healing yourself no matter what you face and realize that every interaction is co=created. But when healing clears the way, the truth really doe set us free. And we are strengthened by our resolve. Not long after that break up, my husband and I moved into our first home. It was a big, ramshackle, turn-of-the century gem in a transitional neighborhood with tacquerias and tire stores on the street corners. Moving into this house, with its sturdy foundation and strong walls was a beautiful renewal of my commitment to my marriage, and I knew that friendships that were meant to be would follow.

Just as my heart was remodeling itself from the break I had experienced with some of my friends, and I was embracing a new sense of self, unknown to us my husband's heart was breaking down in a much more literal way. A routine trip to the doctor to check up on a congenital condition known as bicuspid aortic valve, or BAV, revealed a time bomb ticking away.

His sweet, strong, thirty-six-year-old heart had an undetected 4.8 centimeter aneurysm growing within. His doctor told him his aorta could rupture at any moment, which would mean game over. This meant lifting a box or bending the wrong way, or picking up a friend's child, could mean instant death similar to the way the late John Ritter suffered from a catastrophic aneurysm.

My husband was in the prime of his life; he had just completed his first marathon, bought our first house, and was thriving in his career. Yet quietly his genetics were failing him. There was no time to grieve or think about it, we had to take action. While in the midst of moving into our new home, we were thrown into a fast track preparation for surgery, which meant massive doses of blood pressure medicine to keep him safe and the mental preparation for the "open heart" part of it. We talked to experts from all over the country in this highly specialized field, but luckily the best in the world was in our own backyard. Open-heart surgery was in store for my husband, a terrifying concept that defied my ability to grasp, imagine, or even say it. Putting on a good face, I was calm on the outside, but inside I was growing anxious. I had firsthand experience with the body turning on you, but this was an entire other level than Grave's disease--this was untenable. It was the first time I actually considered what life would be without him. The what-ifs came in, and I was quickly chasing them out so I could be the rock my husband needed to lean on. He had been there for my heartbreak, I HAD to be there for his.

As I had done so many times in my life, I relied on my friends, but this time it was not for acceptance, or popularity, it was for survival. I imagined myself standing atop a mountain and using a ram horn to make a call throughout the world for people to come and save him. I thought, if I could gather enough hearts together, I could make sure his wouldn't fail. Our community surrounded us. Literally. My circle never actually broke; it just took on a different shape, and size. Exactly like the astrologer said it would. She was right all along.

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