I recently participated in an annual event here in Chicago, an American Heart Association fund-raising heart walk, that I found profoundly moving for me.
Survivors of heart attacks and strokes receive special heart association baseball caps for the event, red for heart attack survivors, white for stroke survivors. They, I, also get strings of mardi gras-like beads, one for each year they have survived. I received three strands of beads this year, the third since my 2012 angioplasty.
Putting that hat on brought me to tears in 2014, the first year I participated, and it did so again this year. It is the only affirmation I get, really, that I have survived a massively traumatic event and am still alive.
People who know me have put the event behind them, like it was something as simple as me riding the subway one day.
Anyone who has been through any similar trauma knows, of course, that is not the case. I wonder every day why I am still here when so many in my family succumbed to heart disease, and so I have been furiously trying to make the most of these extra years I’ve been given.
I had hoped two people would walk with me this year, but neither could come, so I walked alone. I also misjudged how far the starting point was from the subway stop I got off and so had a pretty long walk just to get to the starting point, but I didn’t let that deter me either. I was not going to let anything ruin this special day for me.
It was very special just to be alive that day.
You can still donate to the heart association in my name, just click here. I got zero other donations this year besides the $100 I gave, a pity.